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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

At the U.N., Amb. Antonio Lagdameo Stresses Need to Protect Civilians in Conflicts

Permanent Representative Antonio M. Lagdameo reaffirms PH’s commitment to the protection of civilians in armed conflict at the UN Security Council. (Photo credit: UN Web TV)

NEW YORK — Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations Antonio M. Lagdameo stressed that respect for International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law is crucial to prevent further suffering in conflict situations at the UN Security Council Annual Debate on “Ensuring the security and dignity of civilians in conflict: addressing food insecurity and protecting essential services.”

Ambassador Lagdameo emphasized that a people-centered New Agenda for Peace should promote and enhance the protection of civilians in armed conflicts, supported by strong adherence to International Humanitarian Law and the UN Charter. 

He added that the Security Council’s open debate and the week-long protection of civilian side events are important avenues to discuss key issues and trends, share best practices, and reflect on required policy and normative changes to ensure civilians are protected in times of conflict.  “We can really do more by working hard together,” the Ambassador stressed. 

(Photo credit: UN Web TV)

On peacekeeping operations, Ambassador Lagdameo said that “The Philippines believes that success in peacekeeping operations must be measured by how well we protect civilians and how effective we ensure the sustainment of the environments for peace to flourish.”

Ambassador Lagdameo shared the Philippines’ goal “to further enhance our active participation in the protection of civilians affected by armed conflicts with the projected increase of Filipino peacekeepers on the ground.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres briefed the Security Council, along with Mirjana Spoljaric, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and a civil society representative.

The UN Security Council Open Debate was convened by Switzerland as the President of the Council for the month of May. Swiss President Alain Berset presided over the meeting. The debate commemorated the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the landmark Security Council resolution 2417 (2017) on the Protection of Civilians. 


Mayor Adams Announces Launch of new Program for Older New Yorkers who Want to Work

 ‘Silver Corps’ Pilot Development Program Will Help Protect Older New Yorkers While Supporting Local Communities Simultaneously

Program to Provide Older Adults with Training for In-Demand Industries

NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department for the Aging Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez on Monday, May 22, announced the launch of ‘Silver Corps’ — a new workforce development pilot program for older New Yorkers that will increase financial mobility among older adults, combat ageism in the workforce, and fill employment needs in local communities. The program will be funded by AmeriCorps Seniors and will make New York City one of just two municipalities in the nation that has received funding to develop and launch this type of pilot for older adults.

“Silver Corps is providing older New Yorkers the chance to develop new skills, continue their careers, and give back to their communities,” said Mayor Adams. “Our older New Yorkers have already given us so much to be proud of, so it’s time we give them new opportunities. The volunteers for this program are excited about the new ways they are contributing their skills and knowledge to our economy, and how they now more easily live independently, and we cannot wait to sign up new participants.”

“We know the demand is there among older New Yorkers who want to continue contributing to their communities and keep working, but too many times they are prevented because of ageist biases people have. The Silver Corps program will allow us to help even more older residents who need the support to enter the workforce, and we are pleased to launch this program to help them find employment,” said Department for the Aging Commissioner Cortés-Vázquez. “The community service portion of this program is also a key component. Being active as we get older is good for our bodies and minds, and participant of this program will benefit from exercising them both.”

“I commend the Department of Aging on their recent $4.5 million award, empowering older adults to prepare and reintegrate into the community and local economy through volunteerism and paid training and credentialing opportunities. This initiative will enable older adults to leverage their experience, talents, and skills in new high-need industries and sectors” said Lisette Nieves, president, Fund for the City of New York, and Board of Directors member, AmeriCorps. “Integrating older adults into the workforce is crucial for an equitable and inclusive post-pandemic economic recovery. It taps into their wealth of experience and wisdom, fostering intergenerational collaboration that fuels innovation and mentorship. Their contributions drive economic revitalization, boost productivity, and create a profound ripple effect beyond the workplace.”

“Partnering with these new grantees will strengthen AmeriCorps Seniors’ efforts to impact the communities we serve and enhance the lives of our volunteers in a new and tangible way,” said Atalaya Sergi, director, AmeriCorps Seniors. “We are excited to support older adults to use the skills they have and those they will develop to not only serve their community, but also find financial security and new purpose. Upon completion of their service, they will be prepared and supported to re-enter the workforce.”  

To become a Silver Corps program participant, New York City residents must be at 

least 55 years of age, currently unemployed or underemployed, willing to participate in skills training and specialized certification program, and volunteer a minimum of 10 hours per week at a nonprofit or city agency.

There are currently a dozen individuals enrolled as the first Silver Corps cohort. After participating in workshops on job readiness, financial knowledge, and digital literacy, they will perform community service projects at a local organization or at a city agency.

There are three tiers participants are placed in:

  • Tier 1: Explorer – rapid attachment to employment that may not require a credential or training.
  • Tier 2: Navigator – up to one year of credential attainment or occupation skills training is required.
  • Tier 3: Voyager – more than one year of credential attainment or occupation skills training is required.

During the volunteer portion of the training, a small stipend is provided to participants, and job placement support services are available based on the person’s tier. The cohort recently began their volunteer positions in local organizations across the city, supporting their missions.

To learn more about participating in the Silver Corps program, older New Yorkers can call Aging Connect at 212-AGING-NYC (212-244-6469) or email


ADB to Provide up to US$4B to the Philippines for this Year

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will grant the Philippines with up to US$4 billion to support the country’s socio-economic agenda and other infrastructure development programs of the government for this year alone.

“This 2023 alone, we expect to provide up to US$4 billion to support the government’s Socio-Economic Agenda and the Build Better More infrastructure development program,” ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa told President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. during the ADB reception at its headquarters in Mandaluyong City on Monday.

“This includes preparation of several transformative projects such as the Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge Project, the Davao Public Transport Modernization Project, and the Integrated Floor Resilience and Adaptation Project,” he added.

Highlighting the key aspects of the ADB-Philippines partnership, Masatsugu said ADB has increased its financing to the Philippines by fourfold reaching a total of US$12.7 billion between 2018 and 2022.

Because of the Philippines’ vulnerability to the impacts of climate change due to its exposure to severe weather events, Masatsugu said the ADB is fully committed to helping the Philippines address climate change, saying “it will be a core priority of our assistance going forward.”

During the COVID-19 lockdown in early 2020, Masatsugu said he had the privilege of distributing food packages procured under the Bayanihan project to over 260,000 vulnerable families in Metro Manila.

He also expressed gratitude to the Philippines for being a good host to the ADB’s annual meeting in September last year, where the financial institution announced its US$14 billion assistance package from 2022 to 2025 to help developing member countries address food security issues.

The ADB has a special and enduring partnership with the Philippines as its host country, Masatsugu said, stressing the contribution of the President’s father, the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos, in establishing ADB headquarters in Manila decades ago.

In addition, Masatsugu said 70 percent of the ADB’s staff in its headquarters are Filipinos.

The ADB was the Philippines’ top source of active Official Development Assistance (ODA) among 20 development partners in 2022, accounting for 34 percent (US$10.74 billion for 31 loans and 28 grants) of the US$31.95 billion of the total active ODA.

From 2010 to 2022, ADB’s annual loan financing for the Philippines averaged at US$1.4 billion.

With its continuing commitment to the Philippines, three loans amounting to US$1.10 billion were signed with the Bank within the first nine months of the Marcos administration.

Established in 1966, the ADB is committed to achieving prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty.


In Photos: Philippine Madrigal Singers at St. Paul's Chapel in New York

Trinity Wall Street Church in celebration of AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage) Month presented a free concert featuring the Philippine Madrigal Singers 'UNESCO Artists for Peace' with choir master Mark Anthony Carpio. The concert also included Enrico Lagasca, alumnus of the Philippine Madrigal Singers and a member of The Choir of Trinity Wall Street. May 30, 2023. St. Paul's Chapel. New York. Photos by Lambert Parong for Kababayan Media © 2023 All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Embassy Celebrates National Heritage Month with Philippine History Enthusiast Erwin Tiongson

Prof. Erwin Tiongson (right) entertains questions from the crowd moderated by Public Diplomacy Section Head Mark Dominic E. Lim (left)

WASHINGTON D.C. – “The Embassy hopes that more people will gain interest in Philippine history and how we made our mark in modern American society. We also hope that this will encourage the next generation of Filipino Americans to learn and understand more of their Filipino heritage and of Filipino American history, and how our community earned a seat at the table,” said by Deputy Chief of Mission Jaime Ramon T. Ascalon, Jr. as he welcomed guests during the Kumustahan sa Embahada: Walking Through History featuring Erwin Tiongson on 18 May 2023 at the Embassy’s Quezon Hall. The event was co-hosted by the US-Philippine Society.

Deputy Chief of Mission Jaime Ramon T. Ascalon, Jr. as he introduced Prof. Tiongson to the guests

Mr. Tiongson is a professor at Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service, where he teaches economics and writes about Philippine history. His essays have appeared in a variety of publications, including the Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine, the New York Times, Positively Filipino, Slate, the Washington Post, Washingtonian, and the White House History Quarterly. He is also a co-founder of the Philippines on the Potomac (POPDC) project. 

His recent book “Philippine American Heritage in Washington D.C.” narrates the intertwined history of the Philippines and the United States in the streets of Washington D.C., the nation’s capital. The book contains landmarks often unmentioned in guidebooks and hidden in plain sight but has a significant relation to Philippine history.

Guests lined up to get their books signed by Prof. Tiongson

“The reason this book exists is the same essential reason that we all happen to be here together at this moment in Washington. It is because somehow, our lives are part of the intertwined histories of the Philippines and the United States that spans over a century… This started out as a family project over ten years ago. My family and I just moved back to D.C. after spending a couple of years in the Philippines. In 2012, Titchie (his wife) and I asked ourselves what we could teach our children about our heritage. Instead of having them memorize names and dates, we thought we could visit important places in Philippine American history. That evening, when the Philippines on the Potomac project started, we named thirty places…” Professor Tiongson shared his inspiration in starting the POPDC project, which then led to the creation of his book.

(From left to right) Ambassador John F. Maisto, Prof. Erwin Tiongson, Deputy Chief of Mission Jaime Ramon T. Ascalon, Jr., US-PHL Society Executive Director Hank Hendricksen, and Public Diplomacy Section Head Mark Dominic E. Lim

During the event, Mr. Tiongson highlighted stories of significant figures in Philippine history between the years 1942 to 1946 and their journey behind the walls of the Embassy’s Old Chancery as they pursued Philippine independence back when the country was a Commonwealth. Among these notable personalities are former Presidents Manuel L. Quezon and Sergio Osmeña, Former Secretary of Foreign Affairs Carlos P. Romulo, and many more. The discussion was followed by a signing of books. 

Mr. Tiongson’s special talk comes at an opportune time as the Embassy celebrates the National Heritage Month in the Philippines and the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Heritage Month in the United States.


Mayor Adams Announces Plan to Combat Retail Theft in New York City

Plan Includes Prevention and Intervention Efforts, Enhanced Enforcement to Stem Increase in Shoplifting

Report Follows December Summit with NYPD, Attorney General, Five DAs, Small Businesses, National Retailers, Union Leaders, Local BIDs, Chambers of Commerce, and More

NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday, May 17, announced the release a comprehensive plan to combat retail theft across New York City’s five boroughs. With the exception of 2020, the total number of citywide shoplifting complaints has increased year over year since 2018, with the largest increase — 44 percent — taking place from 2021 to 2022. The increase in retail theft has had a particularly significant impact on retailers that are still recovering from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Retail Theft Report — created through a collaborative effort between retailers, law enforcement, and other stakeholders that came together through a summit hosted by Mayor Adams at Gracie Mansion — includes both upstream, program-oriented solutions and enhanced enforcement efforts, as well as information on existing efforts across New York City agencies to combat retail theft.

“Shoplifters and organized crime rings prey on businesses that have already taken a hit due to COVID-19, but, with this comprehensive plan, we’re going to beat back on retail theft through a combination of law enforcement, prevention, and intervention,” said Mayor Adams. “Last year alone, 327 repeat offenders were responsible for 30 percent of the more than 22,000 retail thefts across our city. This hurt our businesses, our workers, our customers, and our city. This plan will help us invest in diversion programs and in underlying factors leading to retail theft, works upstream to stop some of the factors leading to a crime before one takes place, trains retail workers in de-escalation tactics and security best practices, and takes numerous actions to increase necessary enforcement against repeat shoplifters and deter organized crime rings perpetrating these thefts. Most importantly, this plan aims to reassure our store owners that we know they are essential to our city, and we have their backs. I want to thank the nearly 100 stakeholders from the public and private sectors who participated in our summit last year and who contributed to drafting this report for bringing forward their innovative solutions to tackle this critical issue.”

“Retail theft doesn’t just strike at the heart of our economy; it strikes at the hearts and livelihoods of New Yorkers themselves,” said Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Philip Banks III. “It affects every one of us, and it is going to take all of us to solve it — law enforcement, government, retailers, and the public. This plan is our roadmap forward, and we will continue to work together to protect our stores.”

“Rising retail theft has been a principal concern among many small businesses and a hindrance to our continued economic growth,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. “The plan we’re announcing today is balanced, clear-eyed, impactful, and will provide real support to our small business owners and commercial corridors, making our city safer and stronger.”

“As with everything we do in our city, our efforts to combat retail theft require the continued, unwavering commitment and partnership of everyone — every single stakeholder,” said New York City Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell. “Collectively, we have identified a problem and we’re working together to prevent it from enduring. This is how the NYPD is making New York City safer for all: By working in close collaboration with all of our law enforcement partners and, most importantly, alongside the people we serve.”

“Public safety and prosperity go hand-in-hand, and this administration is protecting both,” said New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Kevin D. Kim. “This plan sends a clear signal that small businesses must continue to be allowed to lead our city’s economic recovery. SBS is eager to work with our partners in the business and public safety community, respectively, to ensure that the recommendations from this report are implemented."

“Across the country, cities are struggling to address the challenge of rising retail theft,” said Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Director Deanna Logan.  “Today, Mayor Adams leads New York in meeting this challenge with a plan that strikes the right balance between enforcement that promotes accountability and the interventions needed to support healthy neighborhoods resulting in safety, rehabilitation, and continued economic prosperity for all New Yorkers.”

Last December, Mayor Adams convened a summit comprised of more than 70 stakeholders to collaborate on policy and find creative solutions to address retail theft across New York City. The summit brought together law enforcement officials, government stakeholders, small business representatives, large retail groups, union leaders, business improvement districts, chambers of commerce, and diversion providers to discuss a variety of topics, including physical security measures, new diversion programs, leveraging technology to protect businesses and improve citywide responses, and enhancing existing partnerships among private, government, and non-profit sectors. The Adams administration then analyzed the information shared by the attendees at the summit, conducted independent research and data analyses, and consulted with law enforcement and retail business management to produce the recommendations in the report released today.

The plan comprises targeted solutions to reduce retail theft perpetrated by individual shoplifters, as well as organized crime rings, including a combination of increased law enforcement efforts and enhanced social service programming and resources to prevent shoplifting, particularly by individuals struggling with substance use disorders, serious mental illness, homelessness, or poverty.

Among the prevention and intervention strategies included in the plan, the administration will:

  • Establish two new diversion programs — “Second Chance” and Re-Engaging Store Theft Offenders and Retail Establishments (RESTORE) — to allow non-violent offenders to avoid prosecution or incarceration by meaningfully engaging with services to help address underlying factors that lead to shoplifting.
  • Install resource kiosks in stores to connect individuals in need to critical government resources and social services.
  • Launch an employee support program to train retail workers in de-escalation tactics, anti-theft tools, and security best practices to help keep them safe in the event of an emergency and to support employees who have been impacted by thefts.

To increase necessary enforcement against repeat shoplifters and deter organized crime rings perpetrating these thefts, the administration will:

  • Create a Precision Repeat Offender Program (PROP) in which retailers can submit dedicated security incident reports to the NYPD to better identify and track repeat offenders and facilitate stronger prosecutions by the five District Attorneys’ Offices.
  • Establish a neighborhood retail watch for businesses in close proximity to one another to share real-time intelligence with each other and with law enforcement in the event of a theft. This program builds upon the NYPD’s Operation Safe Shopper initiative created under Mayor Adams’ leadership as Brooklyn borough president to expand video surveillance camera usage among participants.
  • Advocate at the state and federal level for additional online sale authentication procedures to prevent the resale of stolen goods to build upon the federal Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces (INFORM) for Consumers Act, which goes into effect in June 2023.
  • Establish a New York City Organized Retail Theft Task Force, comprised of retailers, law enforcement agencies, and other stakeholders to collaborate and respond to retail theft trends.