News Tidbits From the Philippines (15-21 February)


As a new week starts, let’s take a step back and have a quick review of what went on in the Philippines last week.


Aquino Grants Pay Hike to Government Workers


After a working visit to the US, President Benigno Aquino III signed an executive order (EO) that grants a pay hike to government workers. The EO also grants additional benefits both for civilian and military uniformed personnel.


EO 201 was signed to finally start implementing a string of changes as part of the Salary Standardization Law 2015 that is yet to be enacted by Congress. The bicameral conference committee has so far accumulated a number of opposing views about the proposed law, which has caused all the delay.


President Benigno Aquino III


The EO grants a base salary increase, a mid-year bonus equal to a month’s basic salary, plus a $5,000-peso Productivity Enhancement Incentive (PEI).


As for government-owned and –controlled corporations (GOCCs) that are not included under the Governance Commission’s power, they may choose to apply the same increase and additional incentives, all to be charged under their corporate funds. This also includes local government unites (LGUs)


Ballots for the 2016 Elections Now Printing, Miriam’s Party Omitted in Some Copies


After being postponed a few times, ballot printing for this year’s elections are finally underway. The printing started in February 15 with six presidential candidates on the list, including the deceased Roy Señeres.


Included in the initial copies being printed are 1.2 million ballots meant for logic and accuracy testing.


Miriam Defensor-Santiago Comelec Filing COC


A major problem arose however, as presidential candidate Miriam Defensor Santiago seeks for an explanation why the name of her political party, the People’s Reform Party (PRP), did not appear in the first few batches printed.


Because of the incident, printing was halted temporarily and the error was reported to the main warehouse in Laguna.


Genevieve Guevarra, the COMELEC printing committee head, says that the first batch was just for testing. She further assures that the final ballots will show all necessary details.


DOH Thinks Twice About Sending Filipino Athletes to Rio Olympics


The prevailing Zika epidemic has caused the Department of Health (DOH) to become concerned about the possible risks that it may pose to athletes participating in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Because of this, they may stop Filipino athletes from participating in the said event to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Rio Olympics


DOH spokesman Lyndon Lee Suy says that they will be assessing the situation further before making a final decision. If the epidemic is already under control by July, then they see no problem in letting the athletes proceed. Otherwise, they would have to prevent them from doing so.


A minimum of 15 athletes will be sent to Brazil for the much-anticipated sporting event. Gilas Pilipinas also has the chance to join the rest of these athletes should they win the FIBA Olympic Qualifiers this July.


Global El Niño Starting to Weaken, Philippines Still in Trouble


One of the strongest dry spells felt by the world is starting to weaken, but its effects are far from over. The UN weather agency says that it will actually take months before those affected by the El Niño can recover. This is especially true for the Mindanao region and the rest of the country, who is just starting to enter the summer season.


Farmer Amidst El Nino


El Niño is the abnormal warming of sea surface temperature, which results in the amount of rainfall falling below the normal level.


Despite its ill effects, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says that if there is one good thing that the event brought, it’s the fact that the world has learned so much from the climate phenomenon and would hopefully be more resilient to weather-related hazards in the future.


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