Pag-IBIG Fund Announces Record Dividend Rates for Savings and MP2 in 2023Meralco Strikes Deal for 400-MW Interim Power Supply Amid Supply ConcernsConstitutional Framer Supports Amendments to Economic ProvisionsOffice of Civil Defense Continues Support for Flood-Recovered Agusan Norte Town

PASAY CITY - The Pag-IBIG Fund disclosed that its regular savings dividend rate has reached 6.55 percent, with the Modified Pag-IBIG 2 (MP2) savings program seeing an increase to 7.05 percent in 2023.

According to Philippines News Agency, Chief Executive Officer of the Pag-IBIG Fund, during the Chairman's Report at the Philippine International Convention Center, these rates are the highest recorded since the pandemic began, highlighting the fund's robust fiscal health and commitment to serving its members.

The fund also reported significant growth in total membership savings, reaching PHP89.26 billion, which represents a 12 percent increase from 2022. Furthermore, MP2 savings experienced a notable rise, amounting to PHP46.54 billion or 17 percent higher than the previous year. "The year 2023 was no different as we have again surpassed our 2022 accomplishments. Our home loans and cash loans are at their highest, our collections and loan portfolio are robust, and our fiscal standing at its strongest," Acosta stated.

Jose Rizalino Acuzar, Secretary of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), emphasized the Pag-IBIG Fund's ongoing efforts to provide Filipinos with opportunities for savings and home ownership. He highlighted the progress of the government's national housing program, 4PH (Pambansang Pabahay Para sa Pilipino), which aims to address the country's housing backlog, currently at 6.5 million. Since its launch in September 2022, the program has initiated construction on 34 projects.

In 2023 alone, Acuzar reported that PHP20.17 billion worth of loans were approved for 17,791 housing units, with a total of 159,814 units under construction. The fund's commitment to housing projects is expected to reach PHP250 billion by 2028. "The housing loan take out is PHP126.04 billion -- seven percent higher than 2022 -- and 96,848 members have new or better homes, which is a record high," he added.

The fund also saw a 10 percent increase in short-term loans from the previous year, amounting to PHP59.32 billion, benefiting 2.65 million members. Overall, the Pag-IBIG Fund's total loan payments reached a record high of PHP142.19 billion, marking a 12 percent increase from 2022. The Fund's total assets, gross income, net income, and dividend payout all saw significant increases, with a dividend payout rate of 97.86 percent.

Additionally, the Pag-IBIG Fund has maintained its credibility and reliability, receiving 11 consecutive unmodified and unqualified opinions from the Commission on Audit. This achievement underscores the Fund's role as a steadfast partner in nation-building and supporting Filipino workers.

MANILA — The Manila Electric Company (Meralco) has successfully secured a 400-megawatt interim power supply agreement, a critical step towards ensuring a stable electricity supply for its consumers, especially during the anticipated dry season and the prevailing El Niño conditions.

According to Philippines News Agency, the agreement was finalized following a competitive selection process, with Limay Power, Inc. emerging as the chosen supplier.

Limay Power, Inc. was awarded the 400-MW Interim Power Supply Agreement (IPSA) after offering an electricity rate of PHP6.2708 per kilowatt-hour, inclusive of value-added tax and line rental costs. This bid was favorably compared to the competing offer from Masinloc Power Co. Ltd., which proposed a rate of PHP6.2957 per kWh for a 195-MW capacity. The agreement with Limay Power, however, remains subject to approval by the Energy Regulatory Commission and, if sanctioned, will extend until February 2025.

Meralco's pursuit of additional power supplies follows an earlier attempt to secure a 260-MW interim power supply agreement, which did not receive any bids by the scheduled deadline. Jose Ronald Valles, Meralco's first vice president and head of regulatory management, disclosed plans to initiate another round of the Competitive Selective Process for the unfilled 260-MW requirement, underscoring the utility's commitment to maintaining electricity reliability.

Ronnie Aperocho, Meralco's executive vice president and chief operating officer, highlighted the importance of these interim agreements in ensuring that the power supply remains uninterrupted during periods of high demand and environmental stress, emphasizing the company's proactive measures to safeguard against potential shortages.

QUEZON CITY - Former Supreme Court Associate Justice Adolf Azcuna, a key figure in the drafting of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, has expressed his support for amending the charter's economic provisions to better suit the current economic landscape.

According to Philippines News Agency, who served as the vice chair of the legislative committee of the Constitutional Commission in 1986, there is a pressing need for the Constitution to evolve in response to the rapid changes in global economic conditions.

During a hearing of the Committee of the Whole on RHB 7 at the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Azcuna emphasized that economic provisions in the Constitution should not be immutable. "Economic provisions should be flexible and they should not be cast in stone, and 37 years is casting in stone. The economic provisions must be responsive to changing economic conditions," he stated. Azcuna proposed making these provisions more adaptable by adding the phrase "unless otherwise provided by law" to Articles 12, 14, and 16, arguing that such an amendment would allow future legislative adjustments to meet changing economic demands.

Azcuna also addressed concerns regarding potential overreach by the Senate or the House in introducing amendments beyond economic matters. He reassured that a safeguard exists in the form of a joint resolution of both Houses, which is limited to one subject matter only, thereby excluding political matters from the amendment process.

In the same context, 1-RIDER Party-list Representative Ramon Rodrigo Gutierrez expressed confidence in the House's readiness to tackle constitutional challenges that may arise from amending the economic provisions. Responding to concerns raised by retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno about the potential for constitutional scrutiny over the proposed changes, Gutierrez acknowledged the inherent risks but underscored the necessity of pursuing reform.

Gutierrez highlighted that any approach to constitutional amendment could face legal challenges, emphasizing the importance of proceeding with the changes despite these potential hurdles. He also expressed trust in the Supreme Court's ability to judiciously handle any issues that may emerge, ultimately deferring to the sovereign will of the people as the decisive factor through a plebiscite.

This initiative mirrors a similar proposal in the Senate aimed at amending specific economic provisions in the Constitution related to public services, education, and advertising. The discussions and proposed amendments reflect a concerted effort among lawmakers to modernize the Philippines' economic policies through constitutional reform.

LAS NIEVES, Agusan del Norte — Following the recent flooding in Las Nieves town, Agusan del Norte province, the Office of Civil Defense in the Caraga Region (OCD-13) has delivered additional aid to support the recovery of affected residents.

According to Philippines News Agency, the distribution on Tuesday included 172 family packs, 735 bottled waters, 499 boxes of hygiene kits, and 287 pieces of blankets, aimed at assisting households as they rebuild in the aftermath of the floods.

The flooding, which impacted at least 14 communities in Las Nieves during the second week of this month, was attributed to the rising levels of the Agusan River caused by heavy rains from a shear line and the trough of a low-pressure area. This natural disaster prompted the evacuation of 3,754 families or 14,331 individuals, who sought refuge in various evacuation centers temporarily.

The relief items were received by Sangguniang Bayan Member Avelina Rosales and Jover Manliguez, chief of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, from OCD-13. Rosales emphasized that while families have returned to their homes, the relief goods are crucial for their continued recovery from the calamity's effects.

The local government of Las Nieves has committed to utilizing its manpower and resources to ensure the swift distribution of the relief goods to the families still recovering from the recent floods.