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Opinion

Be finance wise during COVID-19

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas - The Philippine Star

The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to provide children with stronger protection against rape by raising the age of sexual consent from 12 to 16 years old.

Rep. Lawrence “Law” Fortun, author of HB 7836, expressed hope that the new anti-rape and sexual abuse and exploitation law will be among “the Christmas gifts of the national government to the Filipino people this December.”

The ball is in the court of the Senate to have the House bill passed.

“This is a historic upgrading of our laws against rape, sexual violence, abuse and exploitation against women, children, men and the LGBTQ+ community,” Fortun, a representative of the 1st district of Agusan del Norte, stated in a media release.

The bill raises the age of sexual consent from 12 to 16 years old. Other acts of perversions for sexual gratification have been included in the definition of rape, the forgiveness clause has been removed, amicable settlements and affidavits of desistance will be prohibited, confidentiality of rape and sexual abuse proceedings is ensured, persons who can file rape and sexual abuse cases are no longer limited to just the victims or their guardians, the concept of grooming a victim towards later exploitation has been added and more provisions have been amended to strengthen protection against child prostitution, trafficking and other forms of sexual exploitation.

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The National Union of Career Executive Service Officers, Inc. (NUCESO) will be holding its 19th Annual CES (Career Executive Service) Conference via virtual platform on Dec. 17-18 with the theme: “Recalibrating Strategies and Interventions from the New Normal to the New Future.”

Participants will gain insights on the new trends, strategies, tools and methods used for relevant leaders of the future. Experts have been invited to discuss phronetic leadership, strategic foresight and futures thinking and digital transformation. Topics relating to the pandemic have also been included, such as IT systems used during the pandemic, combatting the effects of pandemic and mental health well-being in times of crisis.

The conference is open to all CESOs, CES eligibles, other third-level government executives and would-be leaders from the bureaucracy’s second-level personnel. For registration, visit the NUCESO website: NUCESO.org/NUCESO Facebook Account.

The NUCESO is composed of career executives from the government from undersecretary to director level positions. It has a central office and regional chapters nationwide. Its honorary members are Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles, Prof. Jose David Lapuz (presidential consultant on education and international organization), Ang Probinsyano Party List Rep. Ronnie Ong and Prof. Consolacion Alaras (co-founder of the Rizal-Blumentritt Pamathalaan Academy). It has two institutional members – the Development Academy of the Philippines (from the government sector) and the Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. (from the private sector).

NUCESO’s incumbent officers are Assistant Executive Secretary Lynn Danao-Moreno (Office of the President), national president; Director Enrique Tayag (Department of Health), executive vice president and vice president for Mindanao, and Anthony Sales (Department of Science and Technology – Region 11), regional director.

Members of the Board of Trustees include: Former Undersecretary Rosalina Bistoyong (immediate  past president); Undersecretary Tonisito Umali (Department of Education), Undersecretary Raul Aguilos (Department of Energy), Executive Director Rowena Candice Ruiz (government procurement policy board) and Regional Director Albert Mogol (Office of Civil Defense – CAR).

NUCESO recently concluded its collaborative project with its two institutional members, DAP and AEV, an executive course on leadership, innovation, communication and knowledge management (or CLICK). Around 32 senior government executives from various government agencies participated in the program.

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On another front: Keeping your physical and mental health in check during the COVID-19 pandemic is crucial, but global information and insights provider TransUnion emphasizes that financial health must not be set aside. It says, “While it might be difficult for many who are struggling due to the pandemic, it is vital that consumers truly understand how certain aspects of finance work to find or even create opportunities amid these difficult times.”

TransUnion is a global information and insights company that provides solutions that help create economic opportunity, great experiences and personal empowerment for hundreds of millions of people in more than 30 countries. In the Philippines, it is a major credit reporting agency and offers a number of specialist services in acquisition, portfolio review and management, fraud, identity and risk management.

According to TransUnion, the government and business industry stakeholders have implemented safeguards to alleviate the pandemic’s economic effects on consumers, but there are habits that one can practice to maintain good credit health overall:

• Pay bills on time. Do not miss any payment deadlines, even if you can only pay the minimum amount. Automate or set alarms if you must. Your credit report helps lenders see whether or not you miss payments and predict a behavior pattern for the future.

• There are payment grace periods accorded to consumers during the pandemic. Depending on your case, you may need to contact your bank or financial institution directly to arrive at a repayment plan that suits your needs at present.

• Set a budget and stick to it. The economic impact of COVID-19 is likely to extend over many years and having the discipline to stick to a budget and not overspend now will benefit you in the long run. In addition, do not apply for several new accounts at a time.

• Maintain low balances. Credit cards are considered “maxed-out” when you have spent 90 percent or more of the credit limit. When you maintain lower balances, lenders view you as someone who uses their credit responsibly. To achieve this, you should be able to pay your bills in full, on time, every time.

• Be a responsible borrower. Lenders recognize that with higher credit limits comes increased responsibility. Credit limits tend to be reflective of both your wider financial standing as well as historic account conduct. A high credit limit reflected in your credit report can signal to lenders that you are a trustworthy candidate for new lines of credit. Should an unprecedented event such as this pandemic arise, you know that you’re in a position to access financial products at competitive interest rates if you need to.

• Beware of phishing and other scams that proliferate even during crises. A recent TransUnion report found that fraudsters are increasing COVID-19 focused scams against consumers online. With the rise in digital transactions in banking, make sure you do not fall victim to fraud activities that can taint your credit report. Steer clear of offers that sound too good to be true. Never provide sensitive information such as PINs and One-Time Passwords.

“We hope to continue creating a virtuous cycle of empowered businesses that empower consumers to gain access to financial services which can uplift their lives and financial health, as we believe this contributes a great deal to their physical and mental well-being too,” says Pia Arellano, TransUnion Philippines president and CEO.

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Email: [email protected]

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