January 6, 2006 (OFFICE OF PRESS SECRETARY) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo launched today in Barangay Payatas, Quezon City her "Tindahang Pinoy" project that seeks to make available and accessible to poor families rice and other basic food items at subsidized prices.

The project substantiates certain program items in her pro-poor 10-point legacy agenda, particularly those aimed to address the basic needs and alleviate the plight of marginalized sectors.

Press Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye, in a radio interview this morning, said President Arroyo has instructed her Cabinet officials to focus their efforts on programs that will help spur the countryís economic growth as well as those that provide basic services to the people, particularly to marginalized sectors of society.

Bunye said the "Tindahang Pinoy" project the President launched today in Payatas, Quezon City will make available subsidized rice, noodles and other basic goods to the squatter families in the area.

The project, Bunye added, will also be replicated in other poor communities in Metro Manila and the regions.

In his regular press briefing yesterday, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said that in addition to ensuring access by the poor to cheaper priced food items, the President has also instructed her Cabinet officials to focus on four other major concerns of government, including public infrastructures, housing, health, and education.

Ermita said President Arroyo has stressed the need to intensify the implementation of much-needed reforms that will "uplift the lives of the average Filipinos."

PGMA opens Tindahang Pinoy convenience store in Quezon City

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo inaugurated this morning the first Tindahang Pinoy (TP) chain of convenience stores at Ilang-Ilang St., Barangay Payatas Area A, Quezon City.

The TP project, one of the major components of the Presidentís job generation and food security program, aims to provide low-income Filipinos fast and reliable access to basic goods and commodities at affordable prices.

Funding for the pro-poor program comes from the P35 billion that the President earmarked for various government projects, including public works facilities, housing, and school buildings during the first quarter of this year.

The TP program also falls under the President's commitment to ensure that ordinary Filipinos, particularly the poor, will benefit from the new economic gains achieved by the country through the governmentís fiscal reforms.

Implementation of the project is being undertaken jointly by the National Food Authority (NFA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), barangay officials and non-government organizations (NGOs).

Under the program, the NFA will supply the rice to the TP, the DSWD will identify the depressed barangays, where the TP convenience stores will be located, while the local barangays will closely monitor TP operations to make sure that the poor and the needy benefit from the project.

The DSWD will also provide a P20,000 loan to those who will put up TP stores in their localities.

Under the project, the TP will sell rice and noodles to families pre-determined to be among the poorest of the poor. To prevent hoarding, residents will be issued identification cards indicating their status in life and will be allowed to purchase two kilos of rice and several packs of noodles everyday.

NFA well-milled rice at the TP store will be sold at P18.00 a kilo, or P6.00 lower than the standard rice sold at other dealers, while noodles will cost P4.27 only a pack.

Aside from rice and noodles, the TP will also sell such basic commodities as coffee, sugar, sardines and cooking oil at lower than "sari-sari store" rates.

During the inauguration, the President announced the release of P500 million to the NFA to support its rice and noodles program.

"I would like to announce that I have ordered the release of P500 million for the budget of NFA to implement its rice and noodles program," the President said.

"This P500 million will go directly to the rice and noodles program and will not be used for the department's other expenses as they have their own corporate budget," she added.

After the inauguration, the President motored to the nearby National Government Center located at Parokya ng Kristong Hari on Commonwealth Avenue to inspect TP stores that have been in operation since September.

According to Jeanette Dumo, executive director of the Kristong Hari Foundation, her foundation was able to put up P200,000 to fund the building of 16 TP stores within her area.

She added that since September, the 16 TP stores were able to realize a profit of P160,000.

A visibly elated President Arroyo thanked and congratulated the TP store owners and egged them to work harder so that their lives and the lives of others in their community would improve.

The TP store is different from the rolling stores or Tindahan ni Gloria rolling stores in the sense that the TP store is "fixed" on a piece of land within the community and, according to NFA Administrator Gregorio Tan, Jr., there are more commodities being sold at TP stores.

Among those who accompanied the President in inaugurating the TP stores were DENR Secretary Michael Defensor, Presidential Adviser on Job Generation Arthur Yap, QC Mayor Feliciano Belmonte, and QC Vice Mayor Herbert Bautista.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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