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National newsbits for July 19, 2014

NO TICKETS FOR PAPAL VISIT

The Catholic Church yesterday warned the public against groups selling tickets for the visit of Pope Francis next year. In a letter to Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Guiseppe Pinto, said the Vatican’s attention “has been drawn to a very unpleasant information” about groups selling tickets to masses and various events related to the visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines next year. Archbishop Pinto called on Archbishop Villegas to “announce to the Filipino people that no tickets will be sold for any of the Papal gatherings.”  (Leslie Ann G. Aquino)

ETHICS EXAM FOR BIR EMPLOYEES

More than 9,000 rank and file employees of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) will take psychological and ethics examinations tomorrow that will determine where they can be best employed within the bureau. Around 1,500 BIR employees based in the national office and four revenue regional offices in Metro Manila will take the tests at the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City, starting at 8 a.m. Employees from other revenue regional offices will take the exams at 20 designated state colleges or universities. “The test will be given to employees with Salary Grade 21 and below, except for those designated as assistant division chief, assistant revenue district officer or any other higher position,” said BIR Commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares. (Jun Ramirez)

SENATE PANEL RESETS DAP INQUIRY

Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad has asked the Senate Finance Committee to reschedule its inquiry into the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) from July 21 to July 30, 2014. Abad wrote the committee chaired by Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero asking to be allowed to testify before the Senate on July 30 because the DBM is heavily swamped with work on the national budget.  Escudero agreed to move the hearing but to July 24.  “Yes we understand that the budget season is here. We considered and thus agreed to postpone the hearing but only until July 24 and with the understanding that Secretary Abad should be there,” Escudero said. In his letter to the committee, Abad said the DBM is in the midst of finalizing the proposed 2015 national budget and the President’s budget message in preparation for submission to Congress on July 30. (Hannah L. Torregoza)

HOUSING COOPERATIVES

The government is strengthening the cooperative housing program by amending its implementing rules and regulations (IRR). “We are now in the process of amending the IRR on housing cooperatives, wherein the key shelter agencies and government financial institutions are enjoined to craft common guidelines for the implementation of cooperative housing programs and to create special loan windows that will cater exclusively to housing cooperatives,” said Vice President Jejomar Binay at the First Cooperative Housing Summit in Quezon City last Thursday. The new IRR will also mandate government agencies to provide technical assistance and capacity building to housing cooperatives and to provide for conflict resolution mechanisms, said Binay, chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC). (JC Bello Ruiz)