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OFWs urged to keep bayanihan spirit and help victims of calamities

MANILA, Dec. 15 (Mabuhay) – President Benigno S. Aquino III has urged all Filipino individuals and organizations abroad to continue to instill their “bayanihan” spirit by donating to the Lingkod sa Kapwa Pilipino Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), a program that provides assistance to the victims of natural calamities.

Speaking before the awardees of the 2010 Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas (PAFIOO) at Malacanang’s Rizal Hall on Tuesday night, the Chief Executive said the donations of overseas Filipino workers are needed to help rehabilitate and build a better future for the families and communities affected by the calamities.

The president recalled that in 2009, the DSWD received a total of $ 91,000 of cash donations from various overseas Filipino communities and organizations, while this year (2010), it raised $ 23,000.

“I want to encourage (all of you) more of these donations,” he said even as he assured them that under his stewardship, all donations and assistance that the government would receive will surely go directly at the doorsteps of the intended beneficiaries.

He also told them that the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) is authorized to issue clearances, under Memorandum Order No. 36, to the Bureau of Customs that will grant duty and tax-free privileges to donations and importations intended for calamity victims.

“In short, a procedure to exempt taxes on overseas donations exists. We have the capacity to get these donations through the administrative maze, and to the right people – the victims of calamities,” the President said.

“I know how hard you and others like you, work to build a better future for your families and communities. And I know I’ve just asked you to do even more. But I want to assure you that your government is also doing everything it can to bring about a Philippines that is more fair, more just, and more prosperous,” he stressed.

As part of the state obligation, the President noted, the national government has strengthened the country’s basic educational system and improved health services intended to help the marginalized sector.

He said the budget for education in 2011 increased by 16 percent or P271.67 billion while for rural health facilities and for immunization for indigent families were also increased to P7.14 billion from P2.46 billion, respectively.

According to the President, the Conditional Cash Transfer program was also increased in the 2011 budget to P21 billion in order to provide the impetus needed in the reform agenda which is designed to significantly improve the lives of the poorest of the poor.

“If we all do our part, I have no doubt that together we can leave a legacy for our country that we can all be proud of. When I leave office in less than six years, we will be able to say that we left the Philippines in a much better state than we found it,” the President said. (MNS)

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