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NO ROAD CLOSURES DURING MISS UNIVERSE PAGEANT; NO PEOPLE WILL BE HIDDEN, WE'LL SHOW THE BEAUTY OF OUR COUNTRY -DU30 ('Despite poverty, there is beauty in this country’)
[RELATED: Miss Universe pageant in PH. Steve Harvey it is!]


DECEMBER 10 -EARLY BIRDS: Miss USA Deshauna Barber and Miss New Zealand Tania Pauline Dawson face the press at Malacañang yesterday. The two candidates were the first to arrive for the Miss Universe 2016 kick-off party. The 65th Miss Universe pageant will be held at the Mall of Asia Arena on Jan. 30, 2017. KRIZJOHN ROSALES
 More than a year after he cursed Pope Francis for causing traffic jams during the papal visit in 2015, President Duterte has ordered the organizers of the Miss Universe pageant to avoid road closures in Manila during the event in 2017. Tourism Undersecretary Katherine de Castro yesterday said the President was firm in his instructions to avoid disrupting the regular flow of traffic and creating public inconvenience for the duration of activities and the main pageant. “When we presented it to President Duterte, that’s the first thing he said: ‘walang isasaradong kalsada, walang itatago na tao, ipakita natin ang ganda ng Pilipinas (no road will be closed, no people will be hidden, we will show the beauty of the Philippines). Despite poverty, there is beauty in this country’,” De Castro said at a briefing in Malacañang. READ MORE...RELATED, Miss Universe pageant in PH. Steve Harvey it is!...

ALSO: Pia Wurtzbach urges Pinoys: Show the world the beauty of Philippines
[RELATED: Great way to end my reign – Pia]


DECEMBER 10 -MANILA — Pia Wurtzbach urged Filipinos to help her show to the world the beauty of the Philippines, as the reigning Miss Universe kicked off a promotional campaign for the international pageant to be held here next month. Wurtzbach appeared at an event held Saturday at the Conrad Manila hotel in Pasay City. In a speech before avid fans, Wurtzbach thanked those who pushed for the country to host the Miss Universe contest because she wants to crown her successor in front of a home crowd. Saturday's event was attended by Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, Miss Universe president Paula Shugart and other pageant contestants. "Thank you so much for making this happen. It's not only a dream of Paula's, a dream of the Miss Universe organization, but also a dream of mine: to bring back the competition here and to show the world how beautiful the Philippines is. And it would be really great if I could finally have a proper walk onstage," she said. READ MORE...RELATED, Great way to end my reign – Pia...

ALSO: EXPLANATORY REPORT - Bus rapid transit (BRT) expected to ease Edsa traffic


DECEMBER 11 -No more center islands on Makati’s Ayala Avenue when the BRT system becomes operational.
Less expensive to build than the MRT and LRT, this bus transport system is used in 180 cities around the world: Severe traffic congestion is a perennial problem for Metro Manila residents, including IT professional Johann Natividad, who lives in Mandaluyong City, not too far from his office in Makati City. Yet, Natividad chooses to drive his own car instead of taking public transport. His reasons are likely shared by a multitude of others: necessity and convenience. “If only public transport here were better, more efficient and comfortable, then I would choose that,” said Natividad, who admits to feeling guilty whenever he drives alone to work and observes the sea of other “lonely” drivers on the road. READ MORE...

ALSO: Pope likens scandal-seeking media to excrement lovers  
[RELATED: ‘
Gaudete Sunday’ calls faithful away from materialism – Pope]
(“Advent is an invitation to sobriety, to not be dominated by the things of this world, to material reality, but rather to govern them,” Pope Francis said in his Angelus address at the St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican.)


DECEMBER 8 -Pope Francis greets the crowd during his weekly general audience at the Paul VI audience Hall on December 7, 2016 in Vatican. / AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO | Manila Bulletin Pope Francis on Wednesday compared scandal-obsessed media outlets who smear politicians and spread gossip to people sexually excited by excrement — and described their readers as feces eaters. He also lambasted “disinformation,” a subject in the headlines amid debate about the growth of fake online news, and its possible influence on the US presidential election. “Disinformation is probably the biggest evil a (communications) medium can inflict, because it steers opinions in one direction, omitting part of the truth,” he said in an interview with the Belgium Catholic weekly Tertio. The Argentine, 79, did not mince his words, saying some in the journalism world suffered from coprophilia — a sexual attraction to feces — while readers tended to coprophagia, the consumption of excrement. READ MORE..RELATED, ‘Gaudete Sunday’ calls faithful away from materialism – Pope...

ALSO: CHR Chief Gascon on Phl rights record - We could do better


DECEMBER 11 -MANILA, Philippines - Describing the country’s human rights record as “far less sterling than it can be,” Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairman Chito Gascon lamented yesterday incidents of human rights violations in the Philippines, as the country celebrated International Human Rights Day. “On human rights day, all nations are asked to reflect upon how we might further uphold dignity of persons by respecting their human rights,” Gascon said. “It is unfortunate that from a long-term perspective, the Philippine record in this regard is far less sterling than it can be.” The CHR, in partnership with various civil society organizations, organized a festival and concert yesterday to highlight the importance of upholding human rights across the world. READ MORE...

ALSO IN-DEPTH REPORT - No poor Filipino by 2040: Can Duterte gov't set the stage?


DECEMBER 4 -'Our emphasis now is to shift the focus to the rural areas, to agriculture, because that is where the poverty has been chronic,' says chief economist Ernesto Pernia – Amid news headlines of the "war on drugs" or the President’s latest tirade, economic planners and sectoral experts are quietly working to achieve an equally news-worthy goal of the Duterte administration: eradicating poverty by 2040 and transforming the Philippines into a middle-class society. Called Ambisyon Natin 2040, the government's long-term vision for development has been institutionalized by President Rodrigo Duterte through Executive Order 5. The “vision” was initiated during the Aquino administration, through the leadership of then National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director-General Arsenio Balisacan. The development plan was adopted by the new administration after intense lobbying among Duterte’s economic team. Leading its pack of supporters is current NEDA Director-General Ernesto Pernia, who contributed to the crafting of the Ambisyon Natin 2040 as an expert on population. READ MORE...


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No road closures during Miss Universe pageant – Duterte


EARLY BIRDS: Miss USA Deshauna Barber and Miss New Zealand Tania Pauline Dawson face the press at Malacañang yesterday. The two candidates were the first to arrive for the Miss Universe 2016 kick-off party. The 65th Miss Universe pageant will be held at the Mall of Asia Arena on Jan. 30, 2017. KRIZJOHN ROSALES

MANILA, DECEMBER 12, 2016 (PHILSTAR) By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 10, 2016 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - More than a year after he cursed Pope Francis for causing traffic jams during the papal visit in 2015, President Duterte has ordered the organizers of the Miss Universe pageant to avoid road closures in Manila during the event in 2017.

Tourism Undersecretary Katherine de Castro yesterday said the President was firm in his instructions to avoid disrupting the regular flow of traffic and creating public inconvenience for the duration of activities and the main pageant.

“When we presented it to President Duterte, that’s the first thing he said: ‘walang isasaradong kalsada, walang itatago na tao, ipakita natin ang ganda ng Pilipinas (no road will be closed, no people will be hidden, we will show the beauty of the Philippines). Despite poverty, there is beauty in this country’,” De Castro said at a briefing in Malacañang.

READ MORE...

“That is why we’ve decided that all of the preliminaries will just be down south, in the Mall of Asia compound to avoid too much inconvenience,” she added.

When Duterte was still mayor of Davao City, he was in Manila during the papal visit. He got stuck in a traffic jam along Roxas Boulevard after the lanes were closed to ensure the security and smooth flow of traffic for the papal delegation.

In a forum where he announced his presidential bid months later, Duterte recounted how he got stuck in traffic during the papal visit in January 2015 and cursed Pope Francis. He said “Pope, you son of a b****, go home.” Duterte’s words drew outrage from the Catholic faithful.

There were also road lockdowns during Manila’s hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November last year, during which flights were canceled as heads of state and their parties arrived and departed.

Duterte as pageant judge

Asked if President Duterte will be given a key role, possibly as judge, in the Miss Universe pageant, De Castro said the pageant organizers relayed this offer to the Office of the President but nothing has been substantiated yet.

“I think his men are aware that we would like him to be part of… to judge it or just even to watch it. But he has not yet given us a concrete answer,” she said.

The Department of Tourism said it would urge the Miss Universe Organization to relax its rules regarding the qualifications of pageant judges should Duterte express interest to be one for the competition next year.

“As of now, we are still appealing the rule of Miss Universe that there should be no judge from the host country. But then I was saying, what if the President is the one judging it? Maybe you should relax that a bit,” De Castro said.

But De Castro said a special section is being readied in the venue in case Duterte decides to watch the pageant.

Yesterday, Miss USA Deshauna Barber and Miss New Zealand Tania Pauline Dawson were presented to the media at the Palace briefing.

Barber and Dawson were happy about the warm welcome they received upon arriving in the country yesterday.

Dawson, who is half-Filipino, said she is excited to go around, including the activity to “swim with the whale sharks” in Cebu.

Barber said her excitement comes from the stories about the Philippines shared to her by reigning Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach. They were roommates in New York.

Wurtzbach will also join the candidates in various activities in major tourist attractions in the country.


Miss Korea Jenny Kim. RUDY SANTOS

“Since she’s from the Philippines and she’s the reigning Miss Universe, she will definitely be going around the country with the girls. She will sort of act as a tour guide for the girls. So far, the plans would be to bring them in January to Baguio City, Cebu, Palawan, Davao and a whole lot of other places,” De Castro said.

“So definitely, Pia will be very much active. Maybe Pia will get more tired compared to the girls because she has to be everywhere,” she added.

Other candidates who arrived in the country yesterday afternoon were Miss Korea Jenny Kim and Miss Australia Emily Caris Tiivel.

Miss Thailand Chalita Suansane, Miss Japan Nakasawa Sari, Miss Vietnam Dang Thi Le Hang, Miss Malaysia Kiranmeet Kaur Baljeet Singh and Miss Myanmar Htet Htet Tun were expected to arrive last night. – With Mary Grace Padin, Rudy Santos

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

Miss U: Steve Harvey it is, no swimsuit tilt in Davao By: Leila B. Salaverria - Reporter / @LeilasINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 12:48 AM December 10, 2016


Steve Harvey. AP FILE PHOTO

So Steve Harvey it is.

It turns out President Duterte has no objections to Harvey’s hosting of the Miss Universe pageant in Manila in January, despite his earlier statement to the contrary.

According to Tourism Undersecretary Katherine de Castro, Mr. Duterte’s earlier expression of disapproval appeared to have been a joke, since he let out a hearty laugh when he learned that the American TV host-comedian was again being tapped as emcee of the international beauty contest after his epic blunder in announcing the wrong winner last year.

De Castro said that when she told Mr. Duterte that Harvey would have to host the event, the President said the TV host was welcome in the Philippines.

In fact, an encounter is being planned between the two, De Castro said.

READ MORE...

“I and Secretary Martin Andanar, we are planning a gimmick (pakulo) between the President and Steve Harvey. So wait for it. And the Miss Universe Organization is very much open to whatever it is that we are planning to do,” she said in a press briefing in Malacañang.

Business as usual

It’s business as usual when the Philippines hosts the Miss Universe pageant in January.

The President wants no road closures, no relocating the homeless, no swimsuit competition in Davao City.

“When we presented it to President Duterte, that’s the first thing he said: No roads would be closed, no people would be hidden. We should show the beauty of the Philippines, that despite poverty, there is beauty in the country,” she said.

Ban on swimsuits

De Castro said the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the pageant organizers have decided that the preliminaries would be held at the Mall of Asia compound, so that the entourage need not travel long distances.

Mr. Duterte also reminded the organizers that Davao City has a ban on swimsuits in beauty pageants so the swimsuit competition would be held in Cebu, she said.

“He said, ‘Yes, hold it in Cebu because in Davao, I will not relax my rules on not having the swimsuit competition in the province,’” she said.

De Castro also said the DOT would want Mr. Duterte to be a judge or to at least attend the pageant.

There is a rule in the Miss Universe Organization not to have a judge from the host country, but De Castro thinks that if it’s the President, an exception could be made.

But she also said Mr. Duterte has not made any commitment to attend or to judge the beauty contest.

“I think his men are aware that we would like him to be part of it, to judge it or just to watch it. But he has not yet given us a concrete answer,” she said.


ABS-CBN

Pia Wurtzbach urges Pinoys: Show the world the beauty of Philippines ABS-CBN News Posted at Dec 10 2016 11:27 PM

MANILA — Pia Wurtzbach urged Filipinos to help her show to the world the beauty of the Philippines, as the reigning Miss Universe kicked off a promotional campaign for the international pageant to be held here next month.

Wurtzbach appeared at an event held Saturday at the Conrad Manila hotel in Pasay City. In a speech before avid fans, Wurtzbach thanked those who pushed for the country to host the Miss Universe contest because she wants to crown her successor in front of a home crowd.

Saturday's event was attended by Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, Miss Universe president Paula Shugart and other pageant contestants.

"Thank you so much for making this happen. It's not only a dream of Paula's, a dream of the Miss Universe organization, but also a dream of mine: to bring back the competition here and to show the world how beautiful the Philippines is. And it would be really great if I could finally have a proper walk onstage," she said.

READ MORE...

In last year's pageant, host Steve Harvey mistakenly named Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez the winner instead of Wurtzbach, leaving the Filipina in shock as she walked to the center stage.

In a recent interview, Harvey, who has already apologized for the gaffe, described the moments after he made the wrong announcement as "pure hell."

Wurtzbach acknowledged it's hard to let go of the experience as international beauty queen.

"I'm not quite ready to give up this sash yet as I think I've grown attached to it," Wurzbach admitted.

"But good luck to all the ladies. I'm very excited for what's in store and umpisa pa lang ito. It's only December so let's keep the momentum going and finally, let's welcome to the Miss Universe competition."

The Miss Universe pageant will be held at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on January 30, the first in the country since 1994.

The auxiliary events of the monthlong competition will be done in other places such as Davao and Cebu, according to the tourism department.

Some of the candidates arrived in the country late Friday to help promote the event and visit some of the places where it will take place. It is the first time the Miss Universe organization arranged such a promotional push, according to Teo.

---------------------------------

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Great way to end my reign – Pia By Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 12, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


During the kick-off party on Saturday night at the Conrad Manila, Pia Wurtzbach quipped that she hoped to have a “proper walk” onstage when she turns over her crown to her successor on Jan. 30, 2017 at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines – With less than two months before the staging of the 65th Miss Universe pageant in Manila, there’s no other woman in the world or universe more excited than Pia Wurtzbach.

“I think it’s a great way to end my reign, to do it here in my home country,” Wurtzbach told The STAR in an exclusive interview.

During the kick-off party on Saturday night at the Conrad Manila, Wurtzbach quipped that she hoped to have a “proper walk” onstage when she turns over her crown to her successor on Jan. 30, 2017 at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena.

She was jokingly referring to Steve Harvey’s gaffe when he wrongly announced that Miss Colombia was the winner during the 2015 pageant finals in Las Vegas.

That’s clearly all in the past now, with Harvey confirmed to again host Miss U – despite misgivings from President Duterte – and with the 27-year-old beauty queen turning reflective as she shared her proudest moment in her year-long reign.

“I would never forget that moment wearing the sash that says Philippines while walking in my evening gown and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be called as the winner. I was definitely proud… because you’re representing the whole country and so many Filipinos were there in Vegas to support me,” she said.

“It was just overwhelming – the amount of support coming not just from Filipinos but from everybody who saw something in me, the potential in me. I think it was great! I’m just really happy about it,” she added.

Wurtzbach expects the same “amazing” moment for the next Miss U, whoever she may be, as she said that while she has grown attached to her crown, “I’ve come to terms that it’s time to give a chance to a new girl for her to experience what I’ve experienced.”

A SHOWBIZ COMEBACK

Asked what her plans are after Miss U, she doesn’t rule out a showbiz comeback whether here or in New York, her home for the last year. “Yes, of course, sayang naman!... Miss U is guiding me and introducing me to the right people.”

While she was previously vocal about the possibility of exploring politics, the Cagayan de Oro native said she’ll think twice about it: “Pag-iisipan ko muna ulit, especially with what has been going on lately. It’s nice to be just a student for now – to just observe what’s going on.”

As for the Miss U work that she’s most proud of, Wurtzbach noted, “Since Miss Universe is under IMG (a sports, events and talent management company) now, we’re trying to balance the charity work and the showbiz side of it. I always ask them, can I volunteer in this place, can we do something here this time because I feel like it’s been awhile since we talked something like this. I like that they’re open to listening to me, as long as we reach a common ground, that’s OK.”

She continued, “I think it was great that I was able to raise awareness (about HIV). Every time people talk about HIV they also think of me. When they say HIV or Aids, ‘Si Pia!’ Parang synonymous na siya, ako yung naiisip nila although sorry wala sa akin ang cure – but it’s good that people know, are talking about it and they’re starting to think, which is exactly what I was trying to do – make people think.”

PREPARATIONS 80% COMPLETE

Meanwhile, local organizers gave assurance that preparations for the upcoming Miss U are now 80 percent complete. It’s the third time the country is hosting the pageant, after 1974 at the Folk Arts Theater and then in 1994 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

“Maybe, I would say 80 percent (complete) and 20 percent execution,” said host committee chair Richelle Singson-Michael of the LCS Group of companies.

Some candidates from Asia-Pacific and the US are in town to drum up interest in the pageant among the international community. Yesterday, they were pictured frolicking in the surfing paradise of Siargao.

When the expected 90 candidates from around the world start arriving on Jan. 13 next year, they will be treated to a grand tour of the country.

“They will be going around the Philippines, we want to make sure that all the places in the Philippines will be well-represented – the beaches, exotic places, cultural places and heritage places,” said Singson-Michael.

The committee is hammering out the final details for the list of destinations but “for now, we have Cebu, Baguio, Siargao, Albay and Abra – from North to South. More to come. It’s probably the biggest event the Philippines is hosting (next year).”

With the three-hour telecast in approximately 190 territories and countries worldwide, Wurtzbach looks forward to how the pageant will open up tourism opportunities for the Philippines.

SHOWCASING TOURIST SPOTS IN PH

“Obviously, we’re going to be able to showcase the different tourist spots in the Philippines, the people, the food so ma-fo-focus talaga yung ano ba talaga ang Pilipinas? Ano ang hitsura ng Pilipinas? We will be able to show how diverse and fun the Philippines is. It can really help Philippine tourism. Para naman ma-boost tayo at di naman bad news ang mga nababalitaan nila about the Philippines.”

Meanwhile, tickets to the coronation night will be on sale starting Dec. 20. Singson-Michael said these will not be as pricey as those of the concerts of international pop stars staged in the country.

She said while a lot of the seats in the VIP section and lower box are reserved, there are still seats available at the lower box, upper box and general admission. They’re expecting the tickets to sell out.

There’s no word yet on who will comprise the judging panel but organizers have previously said that they are going for an international lineup. There are also rumors that Grammy winning Fil-Am singer Bruno Mars will be a guest performer.

JUDGES

Singson-Michael only said, “We are targeting popular international artists who have Filipino lineage.”

All women judges? The Miss Universe Organization (MOU) said yesterday it is considering having an all-woman panel of judges for the 65th Miss Universe competition.

MOU president Paula Shugart said in an interview the possible all-woman panel of judges might consist of former Miss U titleholders.

“Right now, because it’s an anniversary show, we’re actually looking at the possibility of doing all formers or an all-woman panel,” Shugart said.

Asked if President Duterte could be one of the judges, Shugart said she had not received any such proposal. – With Mary Grace Padin


INQUIRER

EXPLANATORY REPORT: Bus rapid transit expected to ease Edsa traffic


No more center islands on Makati’s Ayala Avenue when the BRT system becomes operational.

Less expensive to build than the MRT and LRT, this bus transport system is used in 180 cities around the world

MANILA
- Severe traffic congestion is a perennial problem for Metro Manila residents, including IT professional Johann Natividad, who lives in Mandaluyong City, not too far from his office in Makati City.

Yet, Natividad chooses to drive his own car instead of taking public transport. His reasons are likely shared by a multitude of others: necessity and convenience.

“If only public transport here were better, more efficient and comfortable, then I would choose that,” said Natividad, who admits to feeling guilty whenever he drives alone to work and observes the sea of other “lonely” drivers on the road.

READ MORE...

“The roads are for broader public use, not just for individuals driving their cars,” he said. “A lot of people just choose to buy cars because it’s hard to commute,” he added.

More than 180 cities

If public transport were to be improved, Natividad said he’d prefer a bus system, more specifically a bus rapid transit system, or BRT, that has been adopted in over 180 cities globally since it was introduced in Curitiba, Brazil, in 1974.

In Asia, BRT systems can be found in Jakarta, Indonesia; Seoul, South Korea; Bangkok, Thailand and Guangzhou, China, where a dedicated bus lane with specialized buses and stations make it an efficient option.

A paper by Dutch economist Coen Damen for the Asian Institute of Management provides more details.

Damen wrote that a BRT system’s stations resemble that of a train or subway, where buses have the same height as the station’s platforms. This ensures more rapid loading and unloading of passengers.

“This means that buses that are currently used on regular bus lines cannot be used for a BRT. Regular bus drivers also need extra training to be able to operate a BRT bus,” Damen wrote.


Bus operators will be invited to join the project and provide the bus units based on specifications.

Electronic payment, Wi-Fi

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) also wants extra requirements: sturdy, low-emission bus units to reduce air pollution, better security, friendly to riders with disabilities, electronic payments and Wi-Fi internet.

Metro Manila’s planners early on had bet on elevated trains like the Light Rail Transit Line 1 and Line 2 and Metro Rail Transit 3 to move millions of people efficiently.

But years of neglect mean these train systems have fallen significantly behind in terms of reliability. And while improvements are being put in place—the LRT-1’s operations were privatized, MRT-3 has a new maintenance provider, and new, ambitious overhead train projects and even an Edsa subway system are being proposed—these projects are still many years away and would likely come at a great cost.

Given its relative simplicity, the BRT can be implemented within a shorter time frame and offers long-term benefits.

BRTs have been discussed in previous administrations, with inventor Francis Yuseco pushing for one that he calls PRT, after his Philtrak Rapid Transit concept.

And while BRTs were never fully implemented in previous administrations, a strong shift in this direction seems to be in the offing, with the National Economic and Development Authority board approving the P37.76-billion Metro Manila BRT project in September.

48.6-km system

Approved was a 48.6-kilometer system covering Monumento in Caloocan up to Diosdado Macapagal Avenue/Roxas Boulevard in Pasay, with integrated routes between the Ortigas Business District, Bonifacio Global City and the Makati Business District.

Also being eyed is a link to Metro Manila’s airport terminals as well as connections to integrated transport hubs that would rise in the north, south and southwest parts of Metro Manila.

One of BRT’s staunchest supporters in government today is Robert Siy, DOTr’s senior adviser for planning.

“We need to make our buses and other forms of public transport of high quality so that people will not shift to cars,” he said. “A lot of people are opting to buy cars because our public transit system is currently low quality.”

Starting with a road-based public transport makes sense, as buses, jeepneys and taxis move 61.6 percent of passengers in Metro Manila compared with 32.6 percent of passengers on cars and motorcycles, and 5.8 percent of passengers taking the trains, the DOTr said.

The first BRT project was supposed to open in Cebu, although delays meant the P10.6-billion project would be finished by 2019. Siy said the Metro Manila project was also expected to be finished around the same time, assuming the timely delivery of right-of-way.

Central corridor, 63 stations

The centerpiece of the Metro Manila project will be the so-called central corridor BRT, which will have 63 stations.

Siy said much of the capital expenses would be used to build BRT infrastructure, including the train stations.

Bus operators, who will be invited to join the project later, can provide the bus units that must however comply with DOTr specifications.

Siy said funding options for the government’s share have yet to be finalized, but he noted the state may tap overseas development assistance loans.

On Edsa, big changes are expected with the BRT, starting with the removal of the so-called yellow lane that public buses currently use. “We believe that right on Edsa, there is sufficient space for the BRT to be along the center island. So along Edsa, the stations would largely be underneath the MRT-3,” Siy said.

“Once we bring the BRT on Edsa and buses are restricted to the middle (lane), there would be a more efficient flow for private cars. We would no longer have conflicts between cars and buses (jockeying for) the curb-side lanes,” he added.

Siy said buses would mostly travel along a single lane, but there would be an additional “passing lane” at the stations. The DOTr also needs to identify four to six sites to serve as bus garages that would likely be located on the “outskirts” of Metro Manila.

1.6M passengers daily

Once rolled out, the BRT could initially serve about 1.6 million Metro Manila commuters per day, said Siy, adding the figure could easily be ramped up to more than 2 million passengers a day with the addition of higher-capacity buses.

He said an average 12-meter bus could accommodate 80 passengers, with seating capacity for about 30 people. All buses will be air-conditioned.

Because the buses run on dedicated bus lanes and because technology will play a key part in the loading and unloading of passengers, travel time would be cut significantly, Siy said.

Traveling from Fairview in Quezon City to Makati takes an average of 2 hours and 52 minutes now. With the BRT, travel time would be slashed by more than half to 1 hour and 9 minutes, the DOTr official said. BRT trips for this route would cost about P64 per one-way travel, the same as regular buses today.

Siy said DOTr projections showed the BRT was a sustainable system and would not require subsidies—unlike the LRT and MRT—because it requires a relatively low cost to build. In Damen’s paper, the BRT typically costs about 10 percent of a metro rail system and could be finished in one to two years compared to four to 10 years for a subway system.

The very business model of BRTs would also upend the current practice.

Incentives to operators

According to Siy, the government will collect the fare revenue while bus operators would be paid on a per-kilometer basis and based on how well they serve the public. “Performance is measured according to things like timeliness, or breakdowns or even the driver’s demeanor—is he rude, unkempt or has bad behavior? They can be penalized,” he said.

“We are now in dialogue with the bus industry,” Siy said. “The philosophy is that existing bus operators should have preference in becoming BRT bus operators.” There would also be “some form of competitive bidding,” he added.

“We believe that with the BRT, the existing bus industry can be more stable and more profitable since it will attract more public transport users,” he said.

Siy said the DOTr plans to include an “elaborate network” of pedestrian walkways and bikeways to go with the BRT. The centerpiece is a system that would span parts of the Marikina River, Pasig, Makati, C-5 and Bonifacio Global City.

“One can bike all the way from the Marikina riverbank to Ayala Avenue,” Siy said. “This would be a highly innovative and pro-poor infrastructure project.”

Once all done, the BRT, along with new railway and road projects, could finally give Filipinos like Natividad and millions of others the world-class public transport options they deserve.


MANILA BULLETIN

Pope likens scandal-seeking media to excrement lovers 0 SHARES Share it! Published December 8, 2016, 11:50 AM By Agence France-Presse


Pope Francis greets the crowd during his weekly general audience at the Paul VI audience Hall on December 7, 2016 in Vatican. / AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO | Manila Bulletin

Pope Francis on Wednesday compared scandal-obsessed media outlets who smear politicians and spread gossip to people sexually excited by excrement — and described their readers as feces eaters.

He also lambasted “disinformation,” a subject in the headlines amid debate about the growth of fake online news, and its possible influence on the US presidential election.

“Disinformation is probably the biggest evil a (communications) medium can inflict, because it steers opinions in one direction, omitting part of the truth,” he said in an interview with the Belgium Catholic weekly Tertio.

The Argentine, 79, did not mince his words, saying some in the journalism world suffered from coprophilia — a sexual attraction to feces — while readers tended to coprophagia, the consumption of excrement.

READ MORE...

“I believe the media must be much clearer, more transparent, and not fall — excuse the expression — into coprophilia, which is always wanting to broadcast scandals, ugly things, true though they may be,” he said.

“And as people tend to suffer from coprophagia, it can be very harmful,” he said.

His comments followed widespread debate in the United States and Britain over whether fake news may have played a part in persuading people to vote for Republican candidate Donald Trump and for Brexit.

“Communication mediums have their own temptations, they can be tempted by slander, and therefore used to slander people, to smear them. This above all in the world of politics,” he said.

“They can be used as means of defamation… No-one has a right to do this. It is a sin and it is hurtful,” he said.

-----------------------------------------------

RELATED FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Gaudete Sunday’ calls faithful away from materialism – Pope 10 SHARES Share it! Published December 11, 2016, 12:09 AM By Christina I. Hermoso

The Holy Father Pope Francis reminds the faithful that the season of Advent encourages all of us “to open our horizons and have concern for more than just material things.”

“Advent is an invitation to sobriety, to not be dominated by the things of this world, to material reality, but rather to govern them,” Pope Francis said in his Angelus address at the St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican.

Christendom marks the Third Sunday of Advent today.

“If, on the contrary, we are conditioned and overpowered by them, it is not possible to perceive that which is much more important: Our final encounter with the Lord: and this is important. That, that encounter,” the Pontiff stressed.

Pope Francis reminds the faithful to prepare and remain vigilant for the Second Coming.

“The things of everyday should be seen from the perspective, the horizon, of our final encounter with Christ. Thus is Advent an invitation to vigilance, because not knowing when He will come, we must always be ready to depart. In this season of Advent, we are called to enlarge the horizons of our hearts, to be surprised by the life which is presented each day with its novelty. In order to do this, we need to learn to not depend on our own securities, our own consolidated plans, because the Lord comes in the hour which we don’t imagine. This introduces us to a much more beautiful, and great, dimension,” the Holy Father said.

Catholics mark the Third Sunday of Advent as Gaudete Sunday, a Sunday of joy, to highlight the nearness of the Nativity of Christ.

According to Church leaders, “Gaudete Sunday signifies the nearness of the Lord’s second coming. The observance reminds the faithful to meet the coming Savior with prayers, supplication, and thanksgiving.”

The entrance antiphon in today’s masses, “Rejoice in the Lord always,” (Gaudete in Domino semper) serves to remind the faithful of the significance of Christ’s birth. Church rites will include the lighting of the sole pink candle, the candle of joy, in the Advent wreath, to emphasize the shift in focus from the penitential mood of the first two Sundays of Advent to the joyous expectation of Christ’s birth. The two purple candles, which symbolize penance and hope respectively, will also be lit.


PHILSTAR

CHR on Phl rights record: We could do better (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 11, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Describing the country’s human rights record as “far less sterling than it can be,” Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairman Chito Gascon lamented yesterday incidents of human rights violations in the Philippines, as the country celebrated International Human Rights Day.

“On human rights day, all nations are asked to reflect upon how we might further uphold dignity of persons by respecting their human rights,” Gascon said. “It is unfortunate that from a long-term perspective, the Philippine record in this regard is far less sterling than it can be.”

The CHR, in partnership with various civil society organizations, organized a festival and concert yesterday to highlight the importance of upholding human rights across the world.

READ MORE...

“This year’s global theme calls on everyone to stand up for someone’s rights at this time, when humanity is under attack and human dignity is being devalued,” said the commission, referring to this year’s theme “Stand Up for Someone’s Rights Today.”

“We must remain steadfast in confronting the many challenges to human rights in this country and elsewhere in the world. Now more than ever should the flame of commitment to human values be spread and intensified,” the government body said.

The commemoration came amidst ongoing criticisms on alleged human rights violations by the Duterte administration in its campaign against illegal drugs.

FACT-FINDING INVESTIGATION

The CHR is currently conducting a fact-finding investigation on over 500 deaths supposedly related to the war on drugs, including 202 cases of police operations and 186 alleged vigilante killings or summary executions linked to illegal drugs.

Gascon earlier cited resource limitations in covering what he called an unprecedented spate of killings in the country.

He challenged the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the cases and deliver justice to the victims, stressing that their jurisdiction is only fact-finding and recommendatory.

Dangerous threat to lawyers

Meanwhile, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) raised alarm yesterday over President Duterte’s statement that his war on drugs would next target lawyers defending drug suspects.

In a statement, the leadership of the mandatory organization of over 60,000 lawyers in the country described the statement of the President, himself a lawyer, as “very dangerous.”

“Lawyers must be free to decide to accept and undertake the defense in any kind of criminal case without any fear that doing so will place them in any kind of danger,” the IBP stressed.

“Competent legal representation is not only the right of every accused but, more importantly, the sworn duty of each and every member of the Bar to provide,” it added.

The IBP said the right of every respondent or accused in criminal cases, be they drug cases or not, is not only enshrined in the Bill of Rights in the Constitution but also “premised upon the fundamental principles of justice and fairness, particularly in a situation where the accused is faced with the awesome resources of the State.”

“The right assumes an active involvement by the lawyer in the proceedings, particularly at the trial of the case, his bearing constantly in mind of the basic rights of the accused, his being well-versed on the case and his knowing the fundamental procedures, essential laws and existing jurisprudence. The right of an accused to counsel finds substance in the performance by the lawyer of his sworn duty of fidelity to his client,” the IBP pointed out.

The IBP said it is policing its own ranks and “will never tolerate or condone any kind of unscrupulous or unethical conduct on the part of its members in the performance of their roles as defense counsels, much less any criminal involvement of any lawyer in the drug trade.”

The organization’s national president and chair, Rosario Setias-Reyes, and other national officers and regional governors signed the IBP statement.

It was a reaction to Duterte’s speech during an anti-corruption campaign, where he said lawyers of suspected drug lords are taking advantage of the judicial process, allowing their clients to continue with their illegal activities.

Because of drug suspects being able to post bail, the President said he would “include” their lawyers in his war on drugs.

Last August, Rogelio Bato Jr., lawyer of slain Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa, was shot to death.

De Lima: Government in denial

Sen. Leila de Lima chided the administration yesterday for continuing to be in denial of the human rights violations being committed in the country, particularly in relation to its war against illegal drugs.

In a statement timed during the observance of International Human Rights Day, De Lima belittled the independent human rights probe conducted by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), which found no massive human rights violations taking place in the country.

“The so-called independent probe conducted by the Department of the Interior and Local Government is an insult not only to human rights workers but also, most especially, to the Filipino people at a time when the Philippines joins the international community in the observance of Human Rights Day today,” De Lima said.

De Lima argued that the criminals in the country are getting bolder by the day, based on the still unabated killings taking place on a daily basis.

“To say there is no massive human rights violations is like telling us we do not have a traffic problem in the country,” De Lima said. “Like the traffic problem, our people are outraged at these continued killings done in the name of government’s all-out war against drugs.”

The DILG probe team recommended, among others, the creation of a police manual, which it said should be available in every police precinct.

De Lima said it would appear that the DILG team was not aware of the Revised Philippine National Police Operational Procedures, which was promulgated in 2013.

“This is shocking,” De Lima stressed. “Our policemen should know this manual of operations by heart, so that they will learn to respect the human rights and dignity of all suspected offenders during police operations at all times.”

Deadly drug war

Liberal Party acting president Sen. Francis Pangilinan also issued a statement as part of the observance of Human Rights Day yesterday, airing his concern over how the government’s war against drugs is being implemented.

Pangilinan described the anti-illegal drug campaign of the administration as “controversial and deadly” and one that victimizes the poor, vulnerable and marginalized.

He cited the findings of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights about how policemen who are part of Oplan Tokhang are violating the constitutional rights of the personalities they are apprehending.

Pangilinan also aired his concern about the plan of the allies of the administration to bring down the age of criminal responsibility in the country to nine years.

“Today, Dec. 10, we call on all Filipinos to reaffirm our common humanity, concern for our fellowmen and stand up for the rights of all,” Pangilinan said.

“We echo the call of the United Nations for each of us to ‘step forward and defend the rights of a refugee or migrant, a person with disabilities, an LGBT person, a woman, a child, indigenous peoples, a minority group, or anyone else at risk of discrimination or violence,’ – mga nasa laylayan ng ating lipunan (those on the fringe of our society),” he added. – Janvic Mateo, Edu Punay, Marvin Sy


RAPPLER.COM (IN DEPTH RPORT)

No poor Filipino by 2040: Can Duterte gov't set the stage? Pia Ranada @piaranada Published 9:00 AM, December 04, 2016 Updated 4:05 PM, December 04, 2016

'Our emphasis now is to shift the focus to the rural areas, to agriculture, because that is where the poverty has been chronic,' says chief economist Ernesto Pernia

MANILA, Philippines – Amid news headlines of the "war on drugs" or the President’s latest tirade, economic planners and sectoral experts are quietly working to achieve an equally news-worthy goal of the Duterte administration: eradicating poverty by 2040 and transforming the Philippines into a middle-class society.

Called Ambisyon Natin 2040, the government's long-term vision for development has been institutionalized by President Rodrigo Duterte through Executive Order 5. The “vision” was initiated during the Aquino administration, through the leadership of then National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director-General Arsenio Balisacan.

The development plan was adopted by the new administration after intense lobbying among Duterte’s economic team. Leading its pack of supporters is current NEDA Director-General Ernesto Pernia, who contributed to the crafting of the Ambisyon Natin 2040 as an expert on population.

READ MORE...

"Credit ought to go to the previous administration for thinking about having this long-term vision plan," said Pernia in an interview with Rappler.

"We said that we should continue this, we should carry this through because it's a good idea.... There's already an EO saying that the subsequent plans, the current administration's medium-term Philippine Development Plan, and subsequent PDP should be anchored on this vision," he explained.


DUTERTE'S AMBITION NATIN 2014

Ateneo School of Government dean Ronald Mendoza is a big fan of continuity and thinks the Duterte administration should be given a medal for deciding to continue Ambisyon Natin 2040.

Continuity, he said, is the "key formula" to improving anti-poverty efforts.

"We will never be an industrialized country if we don't continue some good policies because then we’ll constantly be reinventing the wheel," he told Rappler.

Duterte wants Ambisyon Natin 2040 to be the basis of the Philippine Development Plan 2017 to 2022, which should be ready by end of January, said Pernia.

Ambisyon Natin 2040: 'By 2040, the Philippines shall be a prosperous, predominantly middle class society where no one is poor; our peoples shall live long and healthy lives, be smart and innovative; and shall live in a high trust society.'

If the Aquino administration succeeded in turning the Philippines into Asia’s new tiger economy, can the Duterte administration harness this success to attain the long-elusive prize of inclusive economic growth?

The stage is being set for the Duterte administration to contribute to the country's overall development trajectory.

'Imminently doable'

Eradicating poverty by 2040, or within the lifetimes of many adults today, is "imminently doable," said Mendoza, an economist who helped formulate Ambisyon Natin 2040.

To be a middle-class society, the Philippines needs to keep up or surpass its 7.1% economic growth rate for 24 more years, said Mendoza.

Can all those who are poor today level up to middle class in 24 years? Mendoza says it's possible if the government were to produce 1.3 million to 1.5 million jobs every year for the next 20 years – more than double the number of jobs the Aquino administration was able to generate yearly (607,500 on average).

CALCULAITONS

"The rule of thumb is 6-7% growth yearly for every decade doubles your GDP per capita," he told Rappler.

Based on his calculations, 10 years of 6-7% growth could make the Philippine economy equivalent to Thailand's. Another 10 years, we can compare ourselves to Malaysia. A 3rd decade of such growth brings us to the level of South Korea.

Such calculations are underpinned by actual experiences of countries like China, South Korea, and Taiwan.

"China became China because of two decades of almost 10% growth," said Mendoza.

But for all Filipinos to support Ambisyon Natin 2040, economic growth must be that most cliché of cliché economic terms: inclusive.

The steady rise of economic growth during the Aquino administration did not stop hunger from worsening in the last quarter of 2015.

A woman in Ilocos region lives 12 years longer than a woman who lives in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, proof that inequality is still pervasive in the Philippines.

Inclusive economic growth is the challenge facing the Duterte administration and the succeeding 3 administrations until the year 2040.

Duterte admin's hits and misses

To make this vision of 2040 happen, Pernia says the government's game plan is to implement the Zero-to-Ten Socio-Economic Agenda. It includes progressive tax reform, more investment in science and technology, and continuation of the Aquino administration's macroeconomic policies.

Five things must be done to make this vision of 2040 happen, according to Mendoza and Pernia. These are:

1.Ensuring affordable food for all Filipinos

2. Building infrastructure that connects us

3. Continued human capital investment

4. Doubling of job creation

5. Full implementation of the reproductive health law


Affordable food


FIGHTING HUNGER. A single can of sardines saves the day of a family in an urban poor community in Quezon City. Photo by Mark Saludes/Rappler

The Duterte administration should decide on how it wants to pursue food security. Does it stick with Aquino administration's goal of achieving 100% rice self-sufficiency?

Mendoza argues that continuing such a policy is "absurd" because, apart from spending billions on increasing rice productivity, it burdens consumers with expensive rice.

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, however, is still determined to target 100% rice self-sufficiency.

Pernia said that Duterte's economic team is still trying to convince Piñol to tweak his goal. The country's chief economist believes that a certain level of importation is good for keeping rice prices affordable.

"We said, 'Why don't you just use the expression 'toward rice self-sufficiency' so it's just a target, an ambition, a vision rather than a necessity?" said Pernia.

Though Piñol is "hard-headed," Pernia said, "he listens, so we have to play golf with him so he will be convinced."

Piñoll initially asked for P62 billion for a rice self-sufficiency program. For Mendoza, an agricultural sector dependent on subsidies does not truly empower the farmer and only uses up government funds that could have gone to other programs.

Even with such funding, the Philippines will never be able to compete with top rice-producing countries like Vietnam and Thailand, blessed with natural irrigation in the form of the Mekong River. Philippine rice will still be more expensive.

The more "pragmatic" approach, said Mendoza, would be to maintain a certain level of rice self-sufficiency, but import enough to ensure the price of rice is affordable for even the poorest Filipino.

Meanwhile, the government should still help Filipino farmers by giving them the tools and know-how to grow more lucrative crops. When farmers make more money from cash crops and have more purchasing power because of cheaper rice, they are more likely to escape poverty.

Cheaper rice due to importation has an immediate impact not only on farmers but on all rice-consuming Filipinos.

"It can pay off immediately. We're not talking about years here. Next year, there will be a big drop in hunger and poverty just by more affordable food and more affordable rice," said Mendoza.

More affordable food also means workers are able to buy more with their salary. This takes off the pressure from companies to pay higher and higher salaries, convincing them to stay longer in the country to generate more jobs and income which are good for the economy.

There is a long-term impact to this as well.

Making sure no Filipino is hungry will provide the robust workforce and generation of competent Filipinos who are the country’s best chance of leveling up its economy.

Infrastructure that connects us


METRO MANILA'S MRT3. The lack of quality transportation infrastructure holds back many cities and regions. Photo by Mark Saludes/Rappler

The Duterte administration is right to accelerate infrastructure spending. Infrastructure is one of the priorities in the proposed 2017 budget, having been allocated P860.7 billion ($18.49 billion), equivalent to 5.4% of GDP.

Pernia has said the government wants infrastructure spending to hit 7% of GDP by 2022.

Infrastructure should improve economic competitiveness, generate employment, and encourage business investments, he said.

More infrastructure will also contribute to more inclusive economic growth by connecting growth engines to the geographic peripheries that don't see much growth, said Mendoza.

Sixty percent of GDP is generated by only 3 regions in Luzon, showing how much the Visayas and Mindanao have been left behind.

Infrastructure can strengthen growth engines in the Visayas like Cebu, or Davao in Mindanao, so that Filipinos in those regions flock to those cities instead of to Metro Manila.

At the same time, infrastructure can connect those 3 high-growth regions in Luzon to the rest of the country, spreading growth more evenly.

Duterte's term is the right time to boost infrastructure spending, thanks to the credit rating upgrade the Aquino administration achieved.

In the past, said Mendoza, "We did not have the money to do it nor the credit upgrade to do it. Now we have it. So what are we waiting for?"

Continued human capital investment


COUNTRY'S FUTURE. The Department of Education aims to continue addressing the shortage of classrooms in the Philippines. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

The Duterte administration is right to continue 4Ps and K to 12, said Mendoza.

In fact, Pernia said the government plans to expand 4Ps: "We are ramping up the budget so that more poor families can be covered."

The Aquino administration's conditional cash transfer program, 4Ps, is credited for bringing down the poverty rate from 25.2% in 2012 to 21.6% in 2015.

The Duterte government's target is to further reduce poverty rate to 14% by 2022.

Studies by the Ateneo School of Government show that 4Ps, in which the government gave poor families a stipend for education and health, convinced households to invest more of their own money into the education of their child.

Government support pushed families so near the threshold of being able to afford better education for their kids that they decided to add more of their own money in order to reach the threshold, said Mendoza.

Research has also found that some households have used the cash from 4Ps to put up small businesses.

That said, there is much room for improvement in implementing 4Ps, which has been bogged down by delays in distribution, owing to the sheer difficulty of bringing aid to households in remote areas.

K to 12, though the subject of much grumbling from parents burdened by paying for an extended education cycle, also contributes to Ambisyon Natin, said Mendoza.

Mendoza believes that the additional years and better quality education promised by K to 12 could help high school graduates land better jobs than the previous 10-year cycle could.

Continued support for healthcare programs, with help from sin tax, is yet another way the Duterte administration can protect the country's most valuable asset, human capital.

Doubled job creation


JOB GENERATION. Users try out a job matching site for persons with disabilities. Photo by Project Inclusion/Unilab Foundation

The Duterte administration is right in supporting micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), said Mendoza.

Strong MSMEs generate jobs and are an incubator for innovation. Nothing enlivens an economy more than homegrown products selling like hot cakes both in national and international markets.

Duterte tapped an MSME advocate, Go Negosyo’s Ramon Lopez, to head the Department of Trade and Industry. He's been busy putting up "Negosyo Centers" all over the country (307 established as of September 22) to bring government support closer to would-be entrepreneurs in different provinces.

The DTI is also trying to help give MSMEs better access to lending institutions so they have more capital to grow their businesses.

Duterte's foreign visits also bode well for MSMEs. In China, credit facilities signed a deal to provide $9 billion in loans for Philippine businesses, development projects, and infrastructure projects. In Japan, there was an exchange of notes on the planned loan from the Japanese government for Philippine agribusinesses.

Mendoza thinks the Duterte administration can go even further by creating new financial instruments where Filipinos who want to grow their money (OFWs, for instance) can park their money and the instrument invests their money into promising MSMEs.

This would help the economy more than, say, Filipinos investing in cars to drive for Uber. The financial vehicles could channel the money into traditionally marginalized sectors like agriculture and fisheries, thereby creating more jobs and opportunities all around.

"If they crack that code and bring in the private sector and leverage the larger monies of the private sector, then our economy will be structurally more inclusive," said Mendoza.

Full implementation of RH law


POOR MOTHERS. Some mothers have difficulties getting gainful employment, while also fulfilling their family duties. Photo by Noel Celis/AFP

Uplifting Filipinos from poverty by 2040 will be impossible if rapid economic growth is not complemented by the full implementation of the RH law, said Pernia, an expert on population.

Without this, population growth "will continue unabated so it will be more difficult to achieve the poverty reduction target," he said.

When families aren't able to limit their number of children, their income is stretched thin, making it more difficult for them to reach middle-income status.

Pernia also believes implementation of the law will free up more women to join the labor force and help bring in more income for their families.

"Women who are frequently pregnant cannot undergo training or continue their education that will enable them to join the workforce. The labor force participation of women is very low precisley because of pregnancies," he said.

In Ambisyon Natin, the goal is for families to triple their income by 2040. So a family of 4 earning P40,000 a month today should be earning P120,000 by 2040 – an amount enough for them to afford not only basic necessities but also luxuries like the ability to travel for leisure.

Will the Duterte administration and the 3 succeeding administrations turn dreams into reality?

Mendoza is optimistic that the country is at least on the right track.

"We are so far away from that future at this point but we are building toward it block by block," he said.

Pernia gave assurances that the government will measure progress regularly using a set of metrics and indicators.

The upcoming PDP 2017-2022 will contribute with its emphasis on spreading economic growth to all parts of the country.

FOCUS ON SPREADING MACROECONOMICS OF PNoy

While the Aquino administration "did very well" in macroeconomic policies, the Duterte government will focus on spreading that growth.

"Our emphasis now is to shift the focus to the rural areas, to agriculture, because that is where the poverty has been chronic," said Pernia.

But the plan needs the help of all Filipinos, not just government.

"I hope it will not make peope complacent. We have to work on it. It's going to be hard homework for everybody," he said.

If everyone does his homework, the one-fifth of the population still impoverished have much to look forward to. – Rappler.com


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