PHL seeks ‘enhanced support’ from ADB for infra program

President Rodrigo R. Duterte and his Cabinet secretaries (right panel) meet with Asian Development Bank executives led by their new president, Masatsugu Asakawa, during a courtesy visit on February 24. — @SECSONNYSAYS

PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte has sought closer partnership with Asian Development Bank (ADB) after the multilateral lender’s new president, Masatsugu Asakawa, paid a courtesy call on Monday.

“I would like to express my appreciation to ADB for its unremitting assistance to the Philippines,” Mr. Duterte told Mr. Asakawa, “We look forward to ADB’s enhanced support to our ‘Build, Build, Build’ Program.”

Mr. Asakawa assured support to the country’s poverty reduction efforts and infrastructure development push.

“ADB is committed to supporting the government’s effort to reduce poverty and create high quality jobs for Filipinos by building a competitive economy and caring society,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

Further, Mr. Duterte also asked for ADB’s assistance to “improve the capacity of the government to undertake public-private partnership (PPP) projects with increased private sector participation.”

On the same day, Mr. Asakawa also met with Finance Secretary and ADB Governor Carlos G. Dominguez III, where the former reiterated ADB’s support to the country’s infrastructure program as well as the development efforts in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, among others.

ADB said it plans to increase its lending portfolio for the country over the medium term, with this year’s loan plan expected to reach at a record level of $3.3 billion.

The proposed funding for this year will cover priority projects such as the South Commuter Railway, EDSA Greenways Pedestrian Walkways, and the Angat Water Transmission Aqueduct 7, as well as various projects meant to boost social protection, sustainable tourism and capital market development.

ADB extended a total of $2.5 billion to the Philippines in 2019, its highest lending to the country so far, up from $1.4 billion in 2018.

The $2.75 billion Malolos–Clark Railway Project that ADB partly funded last year was its largest financed project in the Asia and the Pacific region so far. The project’s construction is seen to start mid-year.

The Manila-based multilateral lender has scaled up its proposed lending program for the country at $9.1 billion from this year to 2022, targeting to invest at least $2.5 to $3 billion annually.

In 2011-2018, ADB extended a total fund of $6.4 billion, or $800 million annually. — Beatrice M. Laforga

DoLE warns against Canada job scams

THE DEPARTMENT of Labor and Employment (DoLE) on Tuesday warned the public against scams on supposed job opportunities in Canada after it found an anomalous scheme requiring applicants to pay over P20,000.

In a statement, DoLE said the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) reported that there are Filipinos who already made payments for work in Yukon, Canada although the agreement between the Philippines and the Yukon government has yet to be signed.

“We are warning the public to be very cautious of this scam that seemingly capitalizes on the still-to-be finalized labor agreement between the Philippines and Yukon,” Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said.

The report said that the scammer used the name of a Yukon-based human resource practitioner’s Web site to trick Filipinos.

DoLE earlier announced that it signed a Joint Communique in August with Yukon Minister Ranj Pillai, signalling the start of discussions for a labor agreement.

The proposed memorandum will establish a system in recruiting Filipinos to the Canadian territory.

“Based on the report by our POLO Vancouver, the Yukon government is still studying the memorandum of understanding, and DoLE will provide an update on this undertaking,” Mr. Bello said. — Gillian M. Cortez

New PSG head says ready to take on ‘a lot of challenges ahead’

NEWLY-APPOINTED Presidential Security Group (PSG) Commander Jesus P. Durante III vowed to uphold their duty as he anticipates challenges in the remaining over two years of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s term.

“The PSG is in for a lot of challenges ahead as we face the remaining 856 days or 28.142 months of President Duterte’s term in office. These are peculiar times, marked by issues and tough presidential pronouncements,” Mr. Durante said during the PSG change of command ceremony Tuesday evening

Mr. Durante previously served as the commanding officer of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion of the 1st Scout Ranger Regiment. He succeeds Jose Eriel M. Niembra, who held the post from May 2018. — Gillian M. Cortez