No more long queus, red tape with online vehicle registration

LTO downloadNo more long queues, red tapes or bribery when owners of motor vehicles or motorcycles apply for registration as the Land Transportation Office (LTO) would soon implement an online payment system throughout the Philippines.

The online system for LTO new registration transactions was a success in Metro Manila and would soon expand to Luzon in November 2018 and the Visayas and Mindanao regional offices before the end of 2018.

The LTO has been conducting seminars on the online assessment and payment systems at its regional offices in Luzon in preparation for the Luzon-wide implementation of an online payment system.

LTO-NCR Regional Director Clarence V. Guinto noted that people are not only expecting but are demanding the availability of  services online.

With the implementation of the online payment system in Metro Manila, official receipt, certificate of registration and motor vehicle plates are made available within three days after motor vehicle and motorcycle dealers submit the requirements, said LTO Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante.

LTO is using the Electronic Payment Assessment Tool (e-PAT), a web-based facility that computes the amount to be paid without human intervention, thus eliminating bribery or extortion.

Online payment for other fees such as license application and renewal will be implemented next year. LTO has partnered with Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) for the online payment transaction and IT service provider, Stradcom Corp.

The computed amount from the e-PAT and other details for the payment are then cascaded to LBP – Electronic Payment Portal (LBP-EPP), where the motor vehicle or motorcycle dealers can use their LBP account to pay for the transaction online.

The payment will then be reflected at the LTO-Information Technology (IT) System which enables faster issuance of the vehicle’s official receipt and certificate of registration.

LTO launched the use of Internet-based payment system for Metro Manila transactions in June 2018, in response to the call of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to eradicate corruption and red tape in government agencies and in line with the law on the “Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018.”


Filipino seafarers can now access online for their seaman’s book

Marina ONLINE-APPOINTMENTFilipino seafarers can now book their appointment online to get their seaman’s book following the launch of the seafarer’s identification and record book (SIRB) appointment system.

The implementation of the SIRB online appointment system is in line with the Maritime Industry Authority’s (MARINA) computerization and automation program included in the agency’s 14-point agenda for 2018.

The SIRB online appointment system would allow Filipino seafarers to save time and energy, spend more of their days off with their families and loved ones, instead of spending their time at the  processing centers for booking appointments.

It is one of the systems that will comprise the MARINA’s Integrated Management System that would ensure that the agency exercises strict and uncompromising quality procedures in the delivery of public service.

The SIRB online appointment system was launched on Friday during the “Usapang STCW Forum” attended by 500 maritime stakeholders.

The forum tackled issues on maritime education, training, and certification for Filipino seafarers such as the MARINA’s framework in producing competent seafarers, the agency’s strategies on ensuring quality maritime education through outcome-based education, as well as the Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers 1978, as amended (STCW) -compliant maritime training programs in the Philippines.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Department of Health (DOH) were also present in the forum that discussed the medical standards for the issuance of medical certificate to Filipino seafarers.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and the Joint Manning Group (JMP) were also in attendance to share the employment opportunities available to Filipino seafarers.

MARINA stressed that  it would continue to provide faster, convenient, and efficient public service to maritime stakeholders, especially Filipino seafarers who contributed US$5.8 billion in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017.


MARINA unveils maritime development program

Gen-GuerreroThe Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) is finalizing the priority programs and projects under the 10-year Maritime Industry Development Program (MIDP), a major component of its 14-point agenda for 2018.

Planning and Policy Service (PPS) Director Emmanuel Carpio said the formulation of the MIDP is pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 474 where the MARINA is created and mandated to prepare a maritime industry development plan to address all the key concerns of the maritime sector in the country.

“While it may be true that we do have plans in the past, those are either short or indefinite plans that do not sufficiently reflect the mandate of the MARINA as maritime administration.”

“We have to commit and adhere by its mandate pursuant to the objectives of its creation, which is to prepare and annually update a ten-year maritime industry development program that contains a rational and integrated development of the maritime industry.” MARINA-PPS Director Carpio said.

The MARINA technical working groups reviewed and finalized the priority programs and projects, with detailed results frameworks highlighting the impacts, indicators, and target outcomes.

These outcomes are the planned establishment of the maritime industrial hub,  MARINA’s role in the development of the Philippine nautical system as well as the country’s coastal and inland waterways, fishing, maritime tourism, maritime safety, maritime security, and maritime information and communication.

Relevant laws and supporting policies, key stakeholders including government agencies, maritime-related industries, and academic institutions, as well as their roles in the implementation of the MIDP were also clearly defined.


FAO-PDRF to strengthen emergency response, improve food security

FAO Representative in PHThe Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) have joined forces to promote and strengthen joint actions in restoring livelihoods and improve the levels of food security and nutrition in areas vulnerable to natural and human-induced hazards in the Philippines.

FAO and PDRF have signed a memorandum of understanding that would strengthen collaboration on emergency response, preparedness, mitigation and building livelihood resilience particularly in supporting vulnerable communities and providing assistance.

The partnership will allow joint activities on surveillance of geographical areas vulnerable to disasters, information sharing on damage and needs assessments for joint response and recovery effort, capacity building for disaster recovery, collaborative emergency response efforts to disaster-affected communities, and supporting resilient livelihoods and environmental sustainability in disaster recovery and rehabilitation.

FAO Representative in the Philippines Jose Luis Fernandez said disasters and climate change impacts, including shifts in weather patterns and extreme weather-related events disrupt economic activities and livelihoods, and ultimately threaten food security.

“Increasing the resilience of agricultural communities to these threats and crises is at the heart of FAO’s work in the Philippines. We welcome the opportunity to expand our partnership in this area with the private sector through the PDRF,” said Fernandez.

“FAO has led the way globally toward food self-sufficiency, nutrition and resilience and PDRF is proud to partner with it in making the Philippines a healthier and safer country,” said Rene Meily, PDRF President.

FAO’s disaster risk reduction and management and climate change adaptation work in the country focuses on building the resilience of vulnerable farming and fishing communities to both natural and human-induced disasters, and enhancing the government’s capacity to address threats and respond to crises.

Founded in 2009 by some of the country’s largest private corporations and leading non-government organisations (NGOs), PDRF is an implementing non-government organization (NGO) in the disaster risk management sector promoting disaster preparedness, relief, and recovery.

PDRF works with field experts and reputable humanitarian institutions to organize and coordinate private sector solutions to disaster management. It has also established the world’s first private sector-led national emergency operations center in Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga.

Digital divide poses obstacle to growth – PIDS


The Philippine Institute Development Studies (PIDS) has warned that digital divide in the Philippines still poses a considerable obstacle to growth.

Low computer ownership across households undermines access as costly and inefficient internet connection services aggravate the situation.

In its latest study authored by research fellow Francis Mark Quimba and research analyst Sylwyn Calizo, Jr., PIDS noted that cyber-security issues are also major risks for the Filipino population which can lead to online scam, data phishing, hacking or theft.

Amid these risks, PIDS has stressed the need to establish a strong collaborative working relationship among key actors in the digital economy and promote the use of information technology through information campaigns.

PIDS has also called for a review of laws related to digital technologies particularly the Internet, the provision of public goods and services and the implementation of the Philippine Broadband Plan.

On the positive side, the study revealed that the use of digital technology is effective in providing financial assistance and training to Filipinos.

The study focused on the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Online Program (TOP) and the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) Bank’s konek2CARD (k2C).

Funded by the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) in partnership with the PIDS, the study aims to assess the state of digital economy in the Philippines and its potential benefits and risks.

Launched by TESDA in 2012, TOP, the first massive open online courseware in the Philippines, is an open educational resource that aims to make technical education more accessible to Filipino citizens through the use of information and communications technology (ICT). It caters to students, out-of-school youths, unemployed adults, local and overseas workers, and professionals here and abroad.

As of December 2017, there are more than one million registered TOP users enrolled in its various courses, such as ICT (51%), tourism (20.7%), health (5.4%), and electronics (4.9%).

According to data cited by Quimba and Calizo, 60 percent of TOP enrolees are women. About 76.2 percent of online sessions occur in the Philippines, while 23.8 percent are done overseas. As of May 2017, 46.8 percent of enrolees have already completed their courses.

A survey by PIDS to 592 TOP registered users during the first quarter of 2018 showed that convenience (78%) and opportunity to learn at one’s own pace (71%) are the key reasons of respondents in using the online tool.

PIDS also noted that e-financing is also becoming a trend in the country. Financial institutions such as banks are slowly turning to digital technologies to improve their services and reach more clienteles.

An example is the CARD Bank’s konek2CARD (k2C), a mobile banking application, which makes use of mobile data that allow its members to do real-time financial transactions online.

Philippines’ first container barge port

Cavite Gatway terminal

The Philippine’s first container barge port is expected to ease traffic in major roads in Metro Manila and central Luzon as car cargoes are transported from international ports in Manila to Cavite via barges and roll-on roll-off operations.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade says that by moving cargo and people out of the roads and into the waterways, Cavite Gateway Terminal (CGT) in Tanza would ease traffic in major roads.

The terminal will also be integrated with other major Luzon port facilities for a cost-effective and time-bound access to the Cavite market.

“We are an archipelago, so this is really a no-brainer. This project is also proof that when the government and the private sector work together, beautiful things can happen,” said Secretary Tugade.

The terminal which was privately funded by the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), has a capacity of 115,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs).

Projections indicate that the terminal will result in approximately 140,000 fewer truck trips annually. It is also expected to reduce road traffic by almost two kilometers of trucks once fully operational.

The terminal is also only 11 kilometers away from the Cavite Export Processing Zone Authority (CEPZA), whose users could be ideal clients of the facility.

Passenger ferry services from Cavite to Manila will also be made available in the future following discussions between the government and the operator.

Construction of the terminal started in October 2017 and was completed in about a year. Early in September, barge operations have already started as part of the dry-run prior to full operations.


EU to launch regional program on sustainable plastic production

_mg_6084.jpg Franz Jessen

The European Union (EU) will launch a regional program early next year to strengthen cooperation with selected countries in East and South East Asia to jointly implement actions that will address sustainable consumption and production of plastic and prevention of plastic waste entering into the marine environment.

The EU program is expected to enhance policy dialogue, exchange shared knowledge and lessons learned from European countries, capacity enhancement, technology transfer and piloting of solutions for better plastic waste management in the Asian region.

Early this year, the EU has adopted an action plan to foster a transition to a stronger and more circular economy where resources are used in a sustainable way.

The plan aims to ensure that all plastic packaging in the European market would be recyclable by 2030, the consumption of single-use plastics significantly reduced and the intentional use of micro plastics restricted.

The European Union Delegation to the Philippines is closely working with the Philippine government on the development of a national strategy for improving plastic waste management and reducing leakages of plastic waste in the marine environment.

European Union Ambassador to the Philippines Franz stressed that climate action is part of a transition to a clean, low-emissions, resource efficient economy and more resilient society.

“This transition offers an opportunity to transform economies, generate new and sustainable competitive advantages, improve public and ecosystem health and prevent climate change impacts”.

The proliferation of plastic waste and its leakage into the environment is a major issue of concern which can aggravate climate change.

 Plastics are by-products of fossil fuels which are a primary cause of climate change. If individuals take a sensible approach on plastic usage, they help transition away from fossil fuels and support a shift towards renewable energy and a healthier climate.

In the process, industry is also encouraged to shift away from producing wasteful and harmful single-use plastics and place more efforts on the design of recyclable forms of plastics.

The European Union Delegation to the Philippines and the ‘Communities Organized for Resource Allocation’ organised recently a forum on “Plastic, Climate Change and Me” at the Asian Institute of Management, in the framework of the second EU Climate diplomacy week of the year.

The forum was aimed at raising awareness on how mismanaged and excessive usage of plastic are contributing to the growing problem of climate change.




Many small Philippine firms not keen in innovation

download.jpg AIM logodownload.jpg Konrad Adenauer

Many of the small and medium Philippine companies are not keen in innovating which is crucial to their growth and competitiveness.

A survey conducted by the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Philippines revealed that small and medium enterprises  across Metro Manila and Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) spent 27 percent of their total expenditure for innovation-related activities, while more than half spent only 20 percent or less.

Results indicated that while majority of SMEs reported engaging in one or more types of innovation in the last two years, only a relatively smaller proportion introduced a new product or service to the company or market in the past two years.

For those who did not innovate, majority said they did not have plans to innovate in the future. The top three reasons for not innovating were “the owners are content with the current state of business operation,” “market is not growing,” and “too risky.”

AIM in its policy note said the survey outcome showed that lack of access to information on markets and of existing government support facilities hampers SME innovation.

“Since SMEs face distinct challenges with access to resources, government support facilities are crucial to test their innovative ideas. Without this information, firms will not be able to target the appropriate innovation for their business to scale up and be competitive,” it said.

“Although, innovation can drive firms to expand and export, the survey results show that only 5 out of all the respondents were able to export in the last two years,” the study said.

And despite availability of government shared-service facilities and funding for SME innovation activities, only a few firms avail of these. In the survey, only 10 out of 480 respondents said they were able to access a government program.

“Indeed, awareness-raising on government support facilities and funding is crucial for SME innovation. This also includes information on trade fairs for exchanges of market information.”

Apart from awareness-raising, an SME needs assessment is crucial for government programs. While there are existing government support facilities, the low participation rate can also be linked to government’s lack of information on what drives SMEs to innovate.

Review of existing government support programs and facilities can offer a more targeted package for SME innovation, said the AIM paper.

Although there are government programs to spur SME innovations, such as the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Small Enterprise Technology and Upgrading Program (SETUP) and Technology Incubation for Commercialization Program, access to technology is one of the challenges faced by SMEs, where despite availability, technologies are not widely used by MSMEs to increase their productivity and competitive advantage.

In the survey, 47.3% of those who did not innovate also identified lack or difficulty of access to technology as a bigger constraint for exporting.

In the survey, the top reason for not innovating is linked to the entrepreneurial mindset that the “owner is content with the current state of business operation.” This is also the overall top reason for not exporting and the second top reason for not expanding. Another top reason is the perception that innovation and exporting are too risky.

“Since innovation is closely linked with expansion and exporting, promoting the motivational factors of entrepreneurs is crucial for SME competitiveness,” the report added.

More new firms to avail of innovation fund

download.jpg DOST logoThe Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is expecting  831 new domestic companies to avail of the government’s innovation fund at a cost of Pesos 848 million (US$15.8 million).

In 2017, 790 small and medium companies had benefited from the program’s innovation fund that enabled them to acquire hardware and software that they needed to improve their technology productivity.

Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato De La Pena has urged micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to avail of the government’s program that will assist them to adopt technology innovations, improve their business operations and boost their productivity and competitiveness.

Under the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP), 45,000 MSMEs were provided with technological assistance with an average productivity improvement of 38 percent that created 227,000 jobs.

De la Peña noted that some Pesos 4.2 billion innovation fund has been generated, while 54,000 technology interventions were provided to these companies.

De la Peña pointed out that firms have to repay such fund without interest. He expects that by 2019, around 831 of new companies would be assisted at a cost of P848 million.

SETUP provides MSMEs with equipment and technical assistance to enable them to increase sales and production, streamline and improve overall operations, upgrade the quality of products and services, and conform to national and international standards of excellence.

Aside from SETUP, De la Pena said the DOST has other programs in support of innovation.

“To upgrade the technological capabilities and productivity of our MSMEs, we continue to provide technological interventions, process and system improvement, technical consultancy, packaging, labelling, training, testing and calibration, and product development to empower our MSMEs to innovate and move up the technology scale and become more competitive,” he added.

45% of Filipinos believed President Duterte has health problems


Forty-five percent of adult Filipinos believed that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has health problems, while 26 percent do not believe.

In its third quarter survey, the Social Weather Station (SWS) found that 55% of adult Filipinos are worried about the president’s health, while 44% are saying they are not worried at all.

The September 2018 survey also found 61% of Filipinos are saying that President Duterte’s state of health is a public matter and the public has the right to know, while 33% of Filipinos believed that the state of the president’s health is a private matter.

SWS said that the net satisfaction rating on the performance of President Duterte was higher at 68 among those who worry that he will have health problems, compared to the good +36 among those who do not worry about it.