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Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Philippine Consulate in New York Highlights Key Initiatives in Media Hour

Consul General Senen T. Mangalile unveils the significant initiatives of the Philippine Consulate General in New York during the Media Hour with the Filipino-American media. (Photo by Cathe Aguilar)

Consul General Senen T. Mangalile unveiled significant initiatives during the Philippine Consulate General in New York’s first Media Hour of the year, held on 23 January 2024. Reflecting on the past year, Consul General Mangalile highlighted achievements and expressed gratitude for the support received since taking office.

During the Media Hour, Consul General Mangalile announced the upcoming 2024 VIP Tour scheduled from 21 to 30 July 2024, covering Manila, Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, and Bukidnon. The addition of the Mindanao leg to the tour presents exciting opportunities for more extensive interactions with local communities, contributing to the broader goal of promoting Philippine culture and heritage. Consul General Mangalile emphasized the importance of media support in promoting the tour, recognizing its potential impact on fostering cultural understanding.

The new officer designations were also introduced by the Consul General. With these changes, the Consul General emphasized the Consulate’s commitment and continuity in serving the Filipino community. He specifically highlighted the importance of delineating cultural diplomacy from community relations, noting that cultural diplomacy targets non-Filipinos while recognizing the Filipino community’s crucial role in promoting Filipino culture to a broader audience.

The Consul General also announced the full implementation of the e-payment system in the Consulate as an initiative to streamline consular services, offering efficiency and convenience for clients. Media representatives were encouraged to inform the public about this transition and its positive impact on consular services.

Looking ahead, Consul General Mangalile announced that the 10th Filipino Community General Assembly is scheduled for 24 February 2024 at the Philippine Center. He noted that the General Assembly would provide an opportunity for the Filipino American community and media to learn about the Consulate’s accomplishments and upcoming projects this year.

The Media Hour concluded with an engaging Q&A session, allowing media representatives to seek clarification and interact with the Consul General. Consul General Mangalile expressed gratitude for media support and welcomed their continued participation and support in the upcoming activities of the Consulate.


President Marcos Leads “Bagong Pilipinas” Kick-off Rally in Manila, 400k in Attendance

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. led Sunday the Bagong Pilipinas kick-off Rally at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila as he calls for unity to build a progressive nation, strong economy and secured future for Filipinos.

Speaking during the event, President Marcos said the country faces a complex and changing world, which calls for a united response to build a strong nation and economy sound.

“We cannot meet these challenges if no common purpose energizes us. We need to have a vision that moves us forward as a people united. A vision so compelling that it brings out the best in us. One that is feasible that every one of us will invest in,” Marcos told the crowd during Sunday’s event.

“We must restore faith in ourselves by taking stock of what makes us a strong people, a resilient nation. We must dig deep into our valiant past, draw strength from the heroism of our forefathers, and let this heritage of selflessness propel us forward into the future,” he said.

The Bagong Pilipinas Campaign is the overarching theme of the Marcos administration’s brand of governance and leadership, characterized by a principled, accountable, and dependable government reinforced by unified institutions of society.

It encourages every Filipino to see beyond differences and work harmoniously to build a nation that shapes a more promising future for its citizens.

Around 400,000 people attended the event, including members of the Cabinet, lawmakers, local government officials, and the general public.


Monday, January 29, 2024

Pahayag ni VP Sarah Duterte Tungkol sa Panawagan ng Pagbibitiw ni President Marcos Jr.



January 29, 2024

I have not spoken to my brother about his remarks on the President’s resignation. 

I can only surmise that Mayor Sebastian Duterte is coming from a place of brotherly love, coupled by the common sentiment that I do not deserve the despicable treatment that I am receiving from some sectors within the circle of the President.

Gayunpaman, naniniwala ako na ang boto ng taumbayan ay isang pagkakaloob ng tiwala na ako’y magtatrabaho at maninilbihan para lamang sa Pilipino. Kasama ng tiwalang ito, ang tiwalang kakayanin ko ang anumang atake, black propaganda, paninirang-puri, at iba pang mga hamon na ibabato sa aking pagkatao. 

Hindi man madali, patuloy akong kumukuha ng lakas at inspirasyon sa tiwalang ibinibigay sa akin ng ating mga kababayan. I take heart from the confidence of the people in my ability to work and thrive in a pandemonium. 

Sa kabila ng lahat, hindi ako kailanman panghihinaan ng loob. I will stay true to my work at the Department of Education, unless the President says otherwise.

Uunahin ko ang Pilipinas.


Sara Z.Duterte

Vice President of the Philippines

Secretary of the Department of Education

Opinion: Guest Commentary on the Maharlika Investment Fund featured at 'On My Watch" By Manuel L Caballero




In my desire to present both sides of an opinion or issue, I am featuring this week a guest opinion from an "OMW" reader.

Our guest opinion writer is Atty. Virgilio Reyes Garcia of Quezon City, Hagonoy, Bulacan and Zamboanga City. Atty. Garcia ran for  congressman in QC's 3rd District in the last election. He placed 3rd out of 6 candidates.But, only one won. Our guest writer is a retired brigadier general in the PH military organization.

Atty. Garcia expressed his opinion on the controversial Maharlika Investment Fund of Pres. Bongbong Marcos, Jr. in response to OMW's earlier commentaries. Here is our guest opinion.

"Quezon City - Now that the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) is in play, its success or failure depends not only  on the competence of the President and the men and women he chose to manage the fund, BUT to a large extent on us, FILIPINOS, here and abroad. 

"The President placed his bet on the MIF in his calculation that it will spur economic development,  accelerate infrastructure development and propel the country to higher growth. Ultimately, we will be among the high middle income class by the end of his term. This was his promise during his first SONA. 

"The success of the fund also depends to a very large extent on foreign investments. 

"We, the people here and abroad, can all help attract foreign investment by manifesting our TRUST. 

"What I am saying is that we have gone past the process of setting it up. The objections to the original draft have been considered in the final version. It is now time to work together and make it work for the sake of the People who stand to benefit by it, and for the sake of our country. 

"Thanks to the inputs of the 12 organizations of economists, businessmen and think tanks we now have a better law. 

"It has been said that a sovereign wealth fund can be beneficial if it is designed well. 

"At least 166 countries have sovereign wealth funds including several States in the US where we can learn from their successes. The only known failure was in the case of Malaysia, where we can also learn from to make our MIF better and to work for us too. 

"Sure there is corruption in the Philippines due to the general weakness of government institutions and of governance due to lack of political will to fight it but I have not totally given up on the Filipino. 

'The MIF will succeed with our support by giving it good publicity. We owe it to the People who are less fortunate than we, the People we all serve, one way or the other."


I wish to greet my daughter Niña on her birthday on Jan. 28. 

Happy Birthday dear Niña!


Thursday, January 18, 2024

Governor Hochul Announces $50 Million to Expand Inpatient Mental Health Services for Children and Adults

Funding to Help Community-Based Hospitals Expand Inpatient Capacity Statewide

Governor Highlights 2024 State of the State Proposals to Strengthen Youth Mental Health Care in New York, Build on $1 Billion Investment To Transform Continuum of Care

Commitment To Open School-Based Mental Health Clinic in Every School That Wants One

Governor Hochul on Thursday, January 11, announced the availability of $50 million to help community-based hospitals expand access to mental health treatment for children and adults across New York State. This funding, part of Governor Hochul's $1 billion investment to transform the mental health continuum of care, will allow these facilities to add new inpatient capacity. Governor Hochul also highlighted the proposals in her 2024 State of the State to tackle the youth mental health crisis, including a commitment to open a school-based mental health clinic for every school that wants one.

“For too long, the mental health crisis has been ignored or pushed aside — but no longer," Governor Hochul said. "Our $1 billion investment is transforming the mental health continuum of care, and our State of the State initiatives will make a real change in the lives of millions of kids.”

Administered by the state Office of Mental Health, this funding will provide awards of up to $5 million to cover design, property acquisition, and construction costs associated with this expansion. Eligible facilities include Article 28 licensed general hospitals and freestanding Article 31 psychiatric hospitals, which operate programs licensed or certified by and in good standing with OMH.

Governor Hochul announced the availability of this funding during a visit to the New York City Children’s Center facility in the Bronx and following her 2024 State of the State address. Earlier this week, she announced new initiatives to ensure children and adolescents have access to adequate mental health support– including youth-led programs, school-based and intensive therapeutic supports, and a specialized workforce trained to treat these populations.

Building on her landmark $1 billion plan to strengthen mental health care, Governor Hochul announced proposals to include additional funding for Children’s Community Residences, developing Youth Assertive Community Treatment teams, continuing funding for school-based and community-based mental health programs, adding inpatient beds for youth with special needs at state-operated psychiatric centers, and other measures aimed at improving mental health support for young people.

The state will also provide additional funding to Children’s Community Residences, which allow youth to go to community schools and continue life in their neighborhoods. These residences will also focus on youth with child welfare involvement, reunifying them with their families and building networks that will encourage success as they age.

Governor Hochul is proposing an expansion of partial hospitalization and children’s day treatment programs for youth who need intensive, daily treatment to address their mental health needs. These programs allow children to stay at home while receiving intensive care in their schools or within community-based treatment settings.

In addition, the state will develop additional Youth Assertive Community Treatment teams also supporting children and adolescents in their communities, and providing wraparound care that includes crisis support, psychotherapy, medication management, and skill-building. First established in 2022, these teams enable young people living with mental illness to live at home and attend school in their community, rather than receiving treatment in residential and inpatient settings.

There are now 24 such teams throughout the state, with an additional six being developed. OMH will fund an additional 12 teams, which would be split between New York City and upstate.

New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “By building a full continuum of mental health services and supports for youth, we can ensure our young people and their families can access appropriate levels of care that will allow them to live and thrive in less restrictive settings. The initiatives outlined in the 2024 State of the State proposal will provide these supports and help children get care at school or within their community, which are less stigmatizing and proven most effective at treating mental health issues.”

Governor Hochul will also partner with the Attorney General and the Legislature to adopt the Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation for Kids Act, which will require social media companies to restrict addictive features. Under this measure, the state would provide resources to young people covering topics such as the risks of social media use, understanding privacy and protecting personal information, and reporting cyberbullying and online abuse and exploitation.

Building on a 200-bed expansion completed last year — New York’s largest in decades — Governor Hochul proposed adding an additional 200 beds at state-operated psychiatric centers. This includes 100 new inpatient beds, 25 forensic beds aimed at restoring justice-involved individuals to competency to stand trial, and three new 25-bed Transition to Home units designed help stabilize individuals with complex mental health needs.

Governor Hochul has made expanding access to mental health services for all New Yorkers, but especially for youth throughout the state. This includes expanding the roughly 1,200 existing school-based mental health clinics to all schools who want them, with continued start-up funding, enhanced reimbursement rates, and enhanced enforcement to ensure all insurers pay adequately for school-based services; and increasing funding for Teen Mental Health First Aid training programs, which utilize peer ambassadors to engage disconnected youth.

In addition, OMH will establish a Youth Advisory Board to ensure behavioral health programs and policies are youth-informed and incorporate best practices. Finally, the Community Mental Health Loan Repayment Program will be expanded to include slots specifically for clinicians who work in child-serving agencies and treat children and families.


Speaker Martin Romualdez to Foreign Investors at World Economic Forum: Now is the Best Time to Invest in the Philippines

Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Wednesday morning (Switzerland time) told foreign investors that now is the most opportune time to invest in the Philippines, especially through the country's sovereign wealth fund, also known as the Maharlika Investment Fund.

Romualdez made the pitch during the "Breakfast Interaction with the Philippine Delegation to the 2024 World Economic Forum" (WEF) roundtable discussion attended by executives and top-level representatives from leading international business and interest groups held Wednesday morning at the Belvedere Hotel in Davos, Switzerland.

In his welcome remarks during the event, Romualdez cited the robust growth of the country's economy under the visionary leadership of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., continuing reforms to make the country more investor-friendly, as well as the positive prospects of the newly-established MIF.

"I am heartened and thankful for the interest we have received from both local and foreign investors who have recognized this as the most opportune time to invest in the MIF," said Romualdez, head of the Philippine delegation to the 2024 WEF annual meet.

"We are extremely optimistic in the continued growth of the Philippine economy and the potential of the MIF and look forward to a fruitful partnership with our investors as we build a better, brighter future for our countrymen," he added.

Romualdez acknowledged that like the rest of the world, the Philippines has experienced challenges in the previous years, principally caused by the coronavirus pandemic that hit local industries hard.

"However, we are indeed quite fortunate to have a President determined to revive the country’s economy. In the past two years I have seen him assemble a team of highly competent technocrats and civil servants, earn the confidence of the business community, and continue to engage relevant stakeholders to achieve economic growth, and the agenda for prosperity," Romualdez said.

As a result of such efforts, Romualdez noted that the country has seen its GDP expand by 5.9% in the third quarter of 2023, with GDP growth forecasts for the fourth quarter pegged at 6.2%.

"There is much promise that beyond the country’s economic recovery, there is also room for tremendous growth. We have been looking at ways of sustaining this momentum, and one of the key factors lies in finding innovative solutions and improving existing ideas to address long-standing issues," Romualdez said.

"One of these solutions, developed by the country’s legislative and executive branches, is the establishment of its first-ever sovereign wealth fund. Called the Maharlika Investment Fund, or the MIF, it is envisioned as an investment vehicle for government programs and projects aimed at promoting the country’s growth and social development," Romualdez said.

Created through legislation in 2023, the MIF will be sourced from both the public and private sectors, locally and internationally. Foreign and domestic capital will be co-investors to finance the country’s economic development, mainly through investments in commercially viable projects.

He added that the fund will make strategic and profitable investments in key sectors, to obtain optimal returns and financial gain in these investments. Several potential sectors have been identified, including infrastructure, oil, gas, and power, mineral processing, tourism, transportation, and aviation.

"With the government’s full support, the MIF will be stable, profitable, and economically sound. As the President has said, it will be “run professionally and without undue political influence." Skilled, experienced managers will handle the operations to preserve and enhance the value of the fund, with auditing mechanisms and financial safeguards in place," Romualdez said.

He pointed out that being a former banker himself, he has seen over 70 countries establish their versions of sovereign wealth funds, with over 90% success rate.

"We hope to integrate the best practices of these nations with SWFs while remaining responsive to our country’s development needs," Romualdez said.

Romualdez added that the Philippine Senate and the House Representatives are now in sync in efforts to introduce constitutional reforms to create a framework that will be conducive to fostering a competitive, inclusive, and robust economic environment.

"These reforms, one of which is to allow more flexibility on the entry of foreign direct investments in the country, provide long-term economic viability for many of our industries and will enable us to better adapt to the ever-evolving global landscape. Said reforms are not just timely but also long overdue, and I am honored to witness this process unfold," Romualdez said.

The breakfast gathering provided a venue for the PH delegation to the 2024 WEF to present investment opportunities in the Philippines, explain the features of the MIF, and answer concerns raised by the guests.

Among the key issues discussed during the breakfast meeting include concerns about the stability and predictability of policies, the challenge and potential of digitalization, as well as the critical role in the progress and development of reliable energy supply.

In answering the queries of the guests, Romualdez was supported by Maharlika Investment Corporation CEO and President Rafael Consing, Jr., Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Eli Remolona, Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organization Ambassador Manuel AJ Teehankee, Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland Bernard Faustino Dy, and BSP Deputy Governor Berna Romulo-Puyat.


Mayor Adams Restores Funding for Community Schools, Makes new Investments in Summer Rising for Young New Yorkers

 Administration’s Measured, Responsible Fiscal Management Has Reduced 

Migrant Costs, Allowing for Select, Reasonable Funding Restorations and Investments

Funding Will Help Young People and Families Thrive All Year Round With New City
Investments in Summer Rising Program and Holistic Support for Community Schools

NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams on  Friday, January 12, announced that, thanks to measures implemented to responsibly manage the city’s budget and strategically navigate significant fiscal challenges, the city will be able to restore $10 million in funding for New York City Department of Education (DOE) community schools and make $80 million in new investments in Summer Rising, jointly funded by the DOE and the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD).

Community schools are schools that partner with community-based organizations to provide holistic support to students and their families, including providing health care, additional learning opportunities, and social and emotional counseling. This funding will be spread across 170 community schools. Summer Rising is the city’s summer program that connects 110,000 elementary and middle school students to fun, culturally relevant, hands-on experiences to strengthen their academic, social, and emotional skills. Summer Rising — a permanent program that had its $80 DOE portion funded under the previous administration using exclusively temporary COVID-19 federal stimulus funds — will now be supported, for the first-time ever, entirely with city dollars.  

The funding restorations build on the Adams administration’s historic investments in young people — including expanding both the Summer Youth Employment and Summer Rising programs to serve record numbers and increasing spending on young adult career success programming by 25 percent, as announced in “Pathways to an Inclusive Economy: An Action Plan for Young Adult Career Success” — a forward-thinking roadmap to build inclusive pathways for the city's young people to discover their passion, receive hands-on career experience, and, ultimately, enter the workforce. The restorations also follow targeted and effective steps taken by the Adams administration in the face of a $7 billion budget gap in Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 due to federal COVID-19 stimulus funding drying up, expenses from labor contracts this administration inherited being unresolved for years, and the growing costs of the asylum seeker crisis — steps that have included helping put migrants on the path to self-sufficiency and reducing per-diem costs. The restorations will be reflected in the FY25 Preliminary Budget, which will be presented next Tuesday, at the City Charter deadline.

“When we invest in our young people, we invest in the future of our city,” said Mayor Adams. “That’s what programs like Summer Rising can achieve — providing a full year of education, social interaction, and active play to our young people. This funding will continue to open the doors to opportunity for a record 110,000 New York City children, while community schools continue to provide essential support to young people and their families with the resources they need, both in and out, of the classroom. Through community schools and Summer Rising, our administration is prioritizing investments in our young people’s futures, but we need to also be honest about the fiscal challenges ahead. Without additional support to fund the asylum seeker crisis from our state and federal partners, we will have massive budget gaps we will need to address in the next fiscal year.”

“Ensuring access to quality, affordable youth development and academic enrichment is something our administration is deeply committed to,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives Ana Almanzar. “I am thrilled that we are able to allocate $80 million in city funding to our Summer Rising program. After serving 110,000 students last summer, this funding will allow us to continue that level of support this summer.”

“Ensuring Summer Rising can continue and restoring funding for our community schools is a tremendous win for our families. Schools are the centers of our communities and programs like these are shining examples of the transformational power they wield,” said DOE Chancellor David C. Banks. “None of this would be possible without the deft decision-making enabled by
mayoral accountability, and I commend Mayor Adams for putting our families front-and-center.”

“Mayor Adams’ visionary leadership has led to a record number of K-8 students being offered the academic and recreational opportunities critical to their development through Summer Rising,” said DYCD Commissioner Keith Howard. “The city’s additional $80 million investment will ensure families have a place to keep their children safe and engaged during the summer. Planning for Summer Rising 2024 is already underway, and DYCD looks forward to collaborating with our community-based partners and DOE to deliver the excellent programming New Yorkers have come to expect.”

In August 2023, Mayor Adams laid out projections estimating the cost of the asylum seeker crisis to grow to more than $12 billion over three fiscal years — between FY23 and FY25 — if circumstances did not change. From April 2022 through December 2023, the city has already spent an estimated $3.5 billion on shelter and services for over 168,500 individuals who came through the city’s intake center during that timeframe. With sunsetting COVID-19 stimulus funding, slowing tax revenue growth, expenses from labor contracts this administration inherited being unresolved for years, and a lack of significant state or federal government action on the asylum seeker crisis, Mayor Adams took action — announcing a 5 percent Program to Eliminate the Gap (PEG) on city-funded spending for all city agencies with plans for additional rounds of PEGs in the Preliminary and Executive Budgets. And, when the state and federal governments did not change circumstances, through strong fiscal management that included implementing measures to reduce asylum seeker household per-diem costs and helping put migrants on the path to self-sufficiency, the Adams administration will achieve a reduction in city-funded asylum seeker spending on the migrant crisis, which will be detailed in the FY25 Preliminary Budget.

As a result of the administration’s policies, nearly 60 percent of the asylum seekers who came through the city’s intake center have left the city’s care and taken the next steps in their journeys. Through the Asylum Application Help Center and the city’s satellite sites, the city has helped submit more than 27,000 work authorization, temporary protected status, and asylum applications, moving asylum seekers that much closer to being able to legally work and be self-sufficient.