(EDITORIAL from Korea Herald on May 9)

Negligence of duty

Lawmakers under fire for taking overseas trips while failing to work on pending bills

With about three weeks left before the 21st National Assembly closes on May 29, a significant number of lawmakers from both the ruling People Power Party and the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea have gone on overseas trips — or plan to do so — while failing to work on piles of pending bills.

Of course, not all lawmakers of the current session are eager to travel abroad to exploit their privilege and spend taxpayer money for their own leisure. And not all trips are meaningless, as “some” are indeed intended for real research for the South Korean people.

But there are enough reasons to doubt those lawmakers going on overseas trips toward the end of their term. Many of their predecessors were publicly slammed for wasteful and shameless overseas trips that turned out to be just sightseeing and pleasure-seeking activities.

Unsurprisingly, the same old pathetic practice has touched off a firestor
m of public criticism again. After the April 10 election concluded, more than 50 lawmakers of the 300-member National Assembly either traveled abroad for “research purposes” or had similar plans. The cost for those last-minute overseas trips alone is estimated at 2 billion won ($1.47 million). The lawmakers also earmarked 20.3 billion won for overseas trips this year, marking the largest-ever amount.

As long as those trips are really necessary and informative for hardworking lawmakers, there won’t be critical responses. The issue is that the purposes of many of those trips appear to be far-fetched from what lawmakers are required to do.

A particularly embarrassing case involved three lawmakers and two civil advisers on the special parliamentary committee on national pension reform. They planned to go to Britain and Sweden for a week starting Wednesday but came under a wave of criticism. Their official reason for the hasty trip was to find a compromise for the dispute-laden pension reform efforts while they
study related cases abroad.

Critics questioned how they would be able to reach a compromise deal in Europe during a weeklong trip even though they still remain at odds over reform details after holding countless discussions here.

Faced with criticism from the media as well as citizens, the lawmakers on the pension reform committee canceled the trip Tuesday.

But the troubling fact remains that lawmakers, including those in leadership positions, are passionate about overseas trips fully funded by taxpayer money. On Saturday, National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo, for instance, embarked on a 15-day trip to the US, Canada and other countries along with other lawmakers from the rival parties. Rep. Park Byeong-seug, a six-term lawmaker who served as speaker before Kim, has also been on a weeklong trip to Japan and Uzbekistan with six lawmakers since Saturday.

Some of these “study-purpose” overseas trip proposals have been rejected by the National Assembly Secretariat for their unconvincing timeframes and object
ives. For instance, four lawmakers applied for trips to France and the Netherlands from May 13 to May 20 to “seek partnership with cities in Europe known for the utilization of eco-friendly bikes,” but the plan was turned down.

The fundamental issue is the public mistrust toward lawmakers who are quick to travel abroad but slow to do their job. According to National Assembly data, incumbent lawmakers have processed 9,455 legislative cases, only 36.6 percent of the 25,830 legislation and revision proposals put forward since May 2020. The percentage of the cases handled by lawmakers has been steadily falling for years from the respectable 69.9 percent achieved during the 16th National Assembly.

With the current National Assembly drawing to a close, lawmakers from all parties should humbly review what they have failed to do as representatives for the people and tighten their schedules to work on as many pending bills as possible, rather than coming up with lame reasons to travel abroad.

Source: Yonhap News A

‘Whole-of-society’ approach to address labor issues – DOLE chief

MANILA: Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma on Thursday underscored the importance of a ‘whole-of-society’ approach to address the country’s labor issues.

Speaking at the Trabaho Para Sa Bayan: Job Opportunities Building Skills (J.O.B.S.) Project at the SM Music Hall, Laguesma said the commitment of the government, as well as the private sector, particularly the employers, is needed to address various issues in the labor sector, such as the creation of quality and decent jobs for Filipinos.

The signing of the memorandum of commitment with the Private Sectors Advisory Council (PSAC), SM Foundation, Jobstreet by SEEK, and other business groups also coincided with the opening of 2,498 job vacancies from 32 companies.

‘Today’s commitment signing not only symbolizes your dedication to supporting the creation of quality and decent jobs but also serves as a reminder that the responsibility of employment is not solely government responsibility alone but the private sector responsibilit
y as well, a whole of society approach for everyone,’ Laguesma said.

He cited PSAC’s commitment and full support for the administration’s job generation goal and upskilling Filipino workers under the government’s national employment master plan through the ‘Trabaho para sa Bayan Act.’

Reacting to calls made by Laguesma, Deborah Sy, executive director of the SM Foundation, said the event is a reflection of the commitment by the private sector in support of government efforts to reduce the job mismatch gap and carry out the needed upskilling of applicants.

‘With today’s gathering of giants of industries, big associations, and government leaders, we hope to contribute to providing employment opportunities to more of our fellow Filipinos,’ she said.

Sy said SM Supermalls have been holding weekly job fairs in their various locations nationwide since January this year.

Dannah Majarocon, managing director of Jobstreet by SEEK, urged employers to post their job vacancies online.

‘Jobstreet by SEEK now provides
employers regardless of location, regardless of job level across the country free access to job posting,’ she said.

Majarocon added that they also help and promote the upskilling and reskilling of candidates.

Meanwhile, job seeker Maria Joana Antolin, a graduating Business Administration student said she is looking for a back office job.

‘Para after ng graduation may mapapasukan na agad (So that after graduation I already have a job),’ she said.

Another graduating student Rose Alia said she does not want to waste her time while waiting for the graduation ceremony in July.

Alia, who is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Office Administration said she prepared numerous copies of her resumé, hoping to land a job.

‘Para may ginagawa na ako habang naghihintay ng graduation para hindi masayang ang araw, marami din kasing expenses pag graduate, para yung salary maka-help na sa expenses (So that I am already doing something while waiting for graduation. There are also expenses, so my salary could help),’
she said.

Laguesma expressed hope that more jobs would be created in the coming months and that more Filipinos get employed through the various job fairs launched by the government and the private sector.

He said DOLE is continuously working with other government agencies, such as the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to promote employability.

He added that DOLE has also strengthened its Career Development Guidance Counseling to assist job seekers.

Laguesma, meanwhile, advised those who are looking for jobs to properly prepare when applying.

‘Kung may pagnanais na makakita ng trabaho, dapat sa oras ng kaniyang pagdalo sa jobs fair, una, wag kayong magpuyat. Dapat nakahanda kayo. Magdamit ng maayos, hindi naman magarbo. Ang pinakamahalaga, dahil may interview portion, na kung ikaw ay pinalad na yung documentary submissions mo, pumasa lahat, dapat huwag nerbiyusin (If you want to get hired when you attend
job fairs, you should sleep early, be prepared, dress well, and most importantly, when you pass the documentary submissions, do not get nervous during the interview),’ he said.

‘Yung mga basic documents dapat din siguro ay presentable. Kung ikaw ang interviewer gusto mong makita na sa simula pa lamang pagtingin mo ng dokumento pag ininterview mo pasado na agad (Your basic documents should also be presentable. If you are the interviewer, you would want to see the documents from the start so that the applicant would pass the interview right away).’

Source: Philippines News Agency

Sneak peek of Art Busan shows strong emphasis on female trailblazers

With its focus on curating female artists and showcasing emerging galleries that highlight young and experimental artists, this year’s Art Busan appears to deviate from its traditional role as solely an art market.

To emphasize its focus, the country’s largest art fair in the first half of the year introduced a new section, called Connect, and appointed Joo Yeon-hwa, an art professor at Hongik University in Seoul, as the inaugural art director for this special exhibition section.

Asia’s trailblazing female contemporary artists, such as Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, Korean visual artist Jung Kang-ja and Chinese performance artist Xiao Lu, receive special attention in the program titled “Herstory,” as part of the Connect section.

During the press preview at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center on Thursday, an array of impressive artworks created by Asian female artists who challenged male-centric societies and courageously pursued their careers as both artists and mothers garnered attention.

” features works by Kim Soun-gui, recognized as Korea’s pioneering female media artist. Among her notable pieces are “One Stroke of Painting” (1975-1985), a video documenting her over a decade-long practice of Korean traditional archery, and “Peinture Cible” (1977-1988), which transforms her archery target into a painting.

Another prominent artist featured in the section is Park Young-sook, known as the country’s first-generation feminist photographer. Recognized for her series of female portraits, Park embarked on this artistic journey after being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 39, and used her work to explore her own identity.

Notable pieces on display include “Portraiture of 36 Friends” (1981), featuring her friends, including artist Yun Suk-nam, and “Mad Women Project” (1999-2005), depicting women grappling with societal pressures, some losing their sanity in the process.

The fair also shines a spotlight on emerging galleries, such as Pageroom8 and Outhouse, that represent and support young
artists through the Future section. The two galleries introduce artworks by Han Ji-min and Yoon Il-kwon, respectively.

Both artists, who primarily work with printmaking, expressed their excitement Thursday for participating in Art Busan for the first time.

“I’ve participated in art fairs twice in the past, and the exhibition space was quite limited. But this time, I could better exhibit my works, and I feel people show more interest,” Yoon said.

Launched in 2012, Art Busan has rapidly grown to become one of the country’s premier annual art festivals, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Kiaf Seoul. This growth has enticed major art galleries and influential collectors from both the domestic and international arenas to converge on the port city, 320 kilometers southeast of Seoul, every spring.

Art Busan claimed the top spot in the local art market last year, both in terms of visitor numbers and sales volume, according to the organizer.

Breaking away from its traditional boundaries, Art Busan ventured into n
ew territory by hosting its first design festival, Define: Seoul, in October. This event aimed to spotlight contemporary design blending Eastern and Western aesthetics, while also celebrating Korean heritage.

The 13th edition of the art fair runs through Sunday, with 129 galleries representing 20 countries participating.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

Over 6-M seedlings planted under ‘Tanum’ Iloilo tree growing program

ILOILO CITY: Over 6.6 million seedlings have been planted in various areas in the province as part of its ‘Tanum” (plant) Iloilo program since it was launched in 2020 until last year as it gears to embark on another activity at the start of the rainy season.

‘Our tree planting is our regular implementation for La Niña because that is part of our long-term plans. That is part of our Tanum Iloilo program, an ongoing program that cuts across other programs,’ Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. said in a press conference on Thursday.

The provincial government launched the program in 2020, aiming to plant 1.5 million trees annually to ‘restore and develop the province’s forests from ridge to reef to achieve the status of a Forest Province.’

The tree growing prioritizes primary and secondary forests and households.

The latest, he said, was in schools and plazas targeting some 1 million trees.

The province’s one central and five satellite nurseries produce around 1 to 1.5 million seedlings annually for the prog

Data, however, showed that from 2020 to 2022, the survival rate of the over 5.11 million seedlings was 48 percent, while monitoring is ongoing for the over 1.54 million planted last year.

For the mangrove rehabilitation, the province has recorded a 39 percent survival rate among mangroves planted in 330.50 hectares in 14 coastal municipalities.

Defensor is proposing for the private sector to adopt forest lands to ensure the sustainability of the program.

‘We have to improve on that, the adoption of forests so that it can be nurtured,’ he added.

Source: Philippines News Agency

Foreign ministry holds interagency meeting on grant aid projects

The foreign ministry said Thursday it held an interagency meeting to evaluate potential grant aid projects for next year in line with the government policy to expand its development aid contribution globally.

A total of 4.16 trillion won (US$3.03 billion) worth of candidate projects have been submitted for 2025, up 21.4 percent from a year earlier, the ministry said.

Second Vice Foreign Minister Kang In-sun, who presided over the meeting, stressed that the government will continue its efforts to increase official development assistance (ODA) to “a level that meets the national status” and help bring fruitful results for the recipient countries.

Based on the potential projects, the foreign ministry will finalize the 2025 grant aid plans. The final version of the plans will be decided by the development cooperation committee led by the prime minister later this year.

The ODA includes the direct provision of grants, loans and technical assistance to developing countries or indirect ones to international orga

South Korea offers grants and concessional loans. Grants require no repayment from the recipient countries, while loans refer to transfers made in cash or goods on concessional terms that come with a repayment obligation.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

Role of coops in sustainable dev’t, climate resilience highlighted

DAVAO CITY: The Climate Change Commission (CCC) highlighted the integral function of cooperatives in ushering sustainable development and attaining effective climate action in the country during the 47th General Assembly and 22nd Leaders’ Congress of the National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO) held on May 4.

Secretary Robert E.A. Borje, CCC vice chairperson and executive director, underscored the vital role of cooperatives during the second plenary session titled ‘Green Growth and Climate Resilience as a Path for Sustainability.’

‘Cooperatives embody the spirit of bayanihan where people come together to help one another, to share resources, and work towards a common goal. It is also a creative approach to supporting people who need help. Strengthening the resilience of cooperatives enhances the resilience of our people, thereby fortifying the resilience of our entire nation,’ Borje said.

‘Local energy cooperatives can promote renewable sources, such as solar and wind, reducing fossil fuel dependenc
e through shared resources. Agricultural cooperatives, on the other hand, aid sustainable farming, lowering carbon footprints and enhancing biodiversity. Meanwhile, transportation cooperatives advocate eco-friendly travel, cutting emissions and congestion. All of these foster local production for a resilient Philippine economy,’ he added.

During the discussion, Borje amplified the ongoing efforts of the national government to achieve climate resilience and sustainable development across all sectors.

He detailed the country’s overarching development and climate plans and frameworks such as the National Framework on Climate Change (NFCC), National Climate Change Adaptation Plan (NCCAP), and the draft National Adaptation Plan (NAP).

Borje emphasized the importance of the NAP in assisting cooperatives in identifying their assets and financial risks amid disasters and climate challenges.

He delved into how climate frameworks can effectively facilitate cooperative efforts to promote eco-friendly goods, services
, technologies and practices to help protect Philippine ecosystems and biodiversity.

Borje also highlighted the importance of reducing energy, materials, and water consumption through highly efficient strategies, transitioning to a low-carbon economy, and mitigating long-term waste and pollution.

NATCCO was established to supervise the coordination and provision of training and educational services at the national level, and serve as a support mechanism for promoting social justice and economic development.

This year, NATCCO’s assembly is focused on the theme ‘Building Trust, Climate Resilience and Sustainable Futures: Happy Members of Secured Co-ops in an Integrated Network.’

The CCC remains steadfast in its commitment to mainstreaming a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach in developing the country’s strategies and plans for the climate crisis.

By engaging and involving the public, private, and cooperatives, the CCC aims to foster ecological and sustainable practices across a range of indu
stries and contribute to the attainment of a climate smart and climate resilient Philippines.

Source: Philippines News Agency