Thursday, 29 October 2009

PIA Dispatch - Thursday, October 29, 2009

PGMA awards ancestral domain titles to Higaonon tribe

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – After 12 years of waiting, the Higaonon tribe in a remote village in Claveria, Misamis Oriental, now have a land they can call their own.

In commemoration of the 12th anniversary celebration of Indigenous Peoples Right Act (IPRA), President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo distributed Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADT) to four village captains in a simple ceremony at the VIP Lounge of Cagayan De Oro City Airport.

The CADT for Higaonon tribe of Barangay Minalwang in Claveria town covers an area of 18,028 hectares. Some 1,816 individuals stand to benefit.

The CADTs were received by Higaonon leaders Datu Amumahan Pina-andil, Datu Ditumbagan Bio, Datu Dikno Mansumagan and Datu Maagsug Pina-ander.

Datu’s Pina-andil and Bio thanked the President for the CADTs, saying the future for the next generation of the tribe is now secure.

To support the Higaonon tribe, the President ordered Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral to bring the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to Barangay Minalwang.

In response, Secretary Cabral revealed to the President that for the next 300,000 family beneficiaries of 4Ps the Higaonon tribe is included in their list as recipient.

The Higaonon tribe of Minalwang applied for Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim (CADC-114) on Oct. 21, 1997 and awarded by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

After years of waiting, the CADC was converted into CADT-084 through the National Commission for Indigenous People (NCIP) which covers 18,028 hectares in Barangay Minalwang, Claveria town, portions of Barangays Hindangon and Eureka in Gingoog City, portions in the towns of Malitbog and Impasug-ong in Bukidnon, and portions of Barangay Guibunon in the municipality of Esperanza, Agusan Del Sur.

PGMA lauds plan to set up SME regional hub in RP

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo lauded today the plan of the Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific to set up a regional hub for small-medium-enterprise (SME) training.

In her inaugural speech read by Press Secretary Cerge Remonde at the CEO Forum VI of the ADFIAP at the Dusit Thani Hotel, the President said that the regional hub for small and medium enterprises training will develop and promote training and capacity building in micro, small and medium sized enterprises.

She stressed that SMEs are the major engine behind the Philippines’ growth and a major creator of jobs.

The ADFIAP said that the regional hub aims to improve the knowledge and capability of SMEs and will lead to greater access to funds being eyed to spur economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Geneva-based International Trade Center (ITC) and the ADFIAP signed on Wednesday a memorandum of understanding to build a long-term strategy for a Regional SME Finance and Knowledge Center, expected to be the first in Asia.

The ITC, a joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations is extending a grant of $28,500 (about P1.4 million) to ADFIAP for the project.

Specifically, the Regional SME Finance and Knowledge Center aims to build the capacity of trade support institutions and SMEs, resulting in easier access to finance. The center is expected to produce country-based trainers that will train and coach SME managers on sound financial management.

PGMA sends off 100 vehicles for Luzon  relief caravan

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today led the send-off ceremony of more than 100 vans and trucks loaded with relief goods for the Luzon relief caravan held at the Boom Na Boom parking area in the Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard, Pasay City.

The relief caravan is dubbed Sama-Samang Pagtulong Relief Caravan to pre-position relief goods in areas of Luzon to be affected by the next typhoon.

As early as 5 a.m. more than a hundred government workers and private volunteers gathered in the parking area to await the dispatch of the caravan vehicles.

At exactly 6 a.m. President Arroyo led the send-off rites with Social and Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and Pasay City Mayor Pee Wee Trinidad.

The President smiled, waved and cheered all government workers and volunteers for their support to her initiative.

She stood with her cabinet to deploy all the 100 vehicles and waited for an hour until the last truck off to Bulacan had passed.

Together with 21 national government agencies and private and international organizations, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will bring the truckloads of relief goods to 16 provinces in Regions I, III, IV-A and V which are most likely to be affected by the upcoming typhoon Santi.

In an interview, Cabral said the truckloads of relief supplies consist of food packs, potable water, mats, blankets and clothing.

We felt that it was better to advance the delivery of goods to areas likely to be hit by the typhoon, so we will start pre-positioning the relief supplies today, she noted.

President Arroyo ordered different government agencies to join the caravan and provide truckloads of relief goods as well as assist in the preparation of the typhoon.

The caravan is divided into 16 groups based on their provincial and regional destinations. The DSWD have already identified drop off points where Provincial Disaster Coordinating Councils (PDCCs) and local government officials will receive the relief goods. The DSWD will supervise and monitor the distribution of relief items.

The drop off points are in the following areas: Lingayen City; Pangasinan; San Fernando, Pampanga; Cabanatuan City; Nueva Ecija; Tarlac; Tanay; Rizal, Cavite; Sta. Cruz Laguna; Batangas; Lucena; Quezon; Daet; Camarines Norte; Naga; Camarines Sur; Sorsogon; Legazpi; Albay and Virac, Catanduanes.

Partners of the DSWD for the relief caravans include the departments of Education, Energy, Social Welfare and Development, Agrarian Reform, Health, National Defense, Finance, Public Works and Highways, Transportation and Communication, Tourism, Foreign Affairs, Labor and Employment, Environment and Natural Resources, Presidential Management Staff, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, National Disaster Coordinating Council, National Youth Commission, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Office of the Press Secretary, Bureau of Customs, National Food Authority, Philippine Health and Insurance Corporation, Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Bases Conversion and Development Authority, San Miguel Corporation, United Nations Childrens Fund and the World Food.

Make development banking an instrument to uplift the poor—PGMA

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo challenged today the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (ADFIAP) to make development banking an instrument to uplift the poorest in the region.

In her inaugural speech read by Press Secretary Cerge Remonde at the International CEO Forum VI at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City, the President noted that as the world economy slowly recovers from economic slump, development banks in the region should seize the chance of becoming bigger players in the economic recovery of Asia.

“These are trying times, indeed, but these are also times that create great opportunities for those who are prepared for challenges. As development financiers, you are all in your element whenever a significant amount of risk is involved. You must know that, in these times of great risks and greater gains, your sector will be called upon to increase its contribution to Asia’s economic rebound,” the President said.

The Chief Executive pointed out that development banking can play a very significant role “not only for economic rebound but more importantly, for equitable economic development.”

She said the reforms instituted must lead to economic growth that is “inclusive, inclined towards the most vulnerable sectors, and inspired by the proposition that development is sustainable and meaningful only if it uplifts the poorest in Asia.”

In the case of the Philippines, the President said, the reforms led to unprecedented growth in 34 successive quarters, including a positive 1.5 percent GDP in the second quarter of this year. And all that amidst the global economic crisis

“Our reform agenda enabled us to lay out a strong safety net for our most vulnerable sectors and spread the benefits of our growth equitably by creating more livelihood opportunities,” she said.

According to the President, the same reforms enabled small and medium business enterprises to grow.

“They are the main clients of development banking in our country,” the President said. She said that bulk of loans go to agribusiness and agrifisheries, especially small farmers and fishermen.

The ADFIAP is a 35-year-old umbrella organization of 108 member-institutions in 41 countries and territories whose advocacy is financing sustainable development.

The CEO Forum is an annual event that serves as a venue for chief executives and senior officers and partners to stay abreast of current issues and challenges in financing sustainable development.

Cruise ship CEO pledges to hire more Filipinos

Europe’s largest cruise ship company pledged to hire more Filipinos for its growing number of luxury liners.

During his courtesy call this morning on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Pier Luigi Foschi, president and CEO of Costa Crociere (Cruises), expressed his company’s support for the President’s goal of bringing in 20,000 tourists to the country next year.

Foschi informed the President of his firm’s plans to help the country by hiring more Filipinos and by bringing in foreign tourists.

“Next year we expect 20,000 tourists coming to the Philippines via our cruise ships,” he added.

Filipino workers, who he said exhibit a great ability to learn, are hardworking and loyal. He added “they set a good example for other employees and crew, so we are very happy with them.”

He pointed out that 8,000 of the 20,000 Costa Crociere employees are Filipino.

“We expect to have some 10,000 Filipino workers on the rolls by 2012, Foschi said.

PAGASA to Central Luzon, Manila: Brace for strong typhoon

MANILA, Oct. 29 – Deteriorating weather conditions can be expected in still flooded areas of Metro Manila and surrounding provinces in Central Luzon  starting Friday as Typhoon Santi (international name MIRINAE) approaches the island and dart through the region starting Saturday.

“Santi is slowly moving towards East Luzon. By Friday, stormy weather can be expected in eastern side of Luzon  including Bicol Region,” Prisco Nilo, Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Adinistration said.

Santi is expected to dart fury on Saturday with heavy rains and forceful winds in the province of Aurora, and across southern part of northern Luzon and the whole of Central Luzon, including Metro Manila for 12 hours, before it exits through Pangasinan by Sunday, he said.

As of 10 a.m., the eye of typhoon Santi was spotted 890 km East of Casiguran, Aurora packing winds of winds of 150 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 185 kph.

It is forecast to track westward at 24 kph.

The Pagasa said only one of the seven major dams is releasing water, the Ambuklao Dam in Benguet, where five gates are open and releasing minimal amount of water.

Santi is seen to be a ‘well-behaved’ storm, compared to previous storms, Pepeng and Ramil, which baffled local and international weather agencies with its erratic behavior.

“Right now, Santi is affected by only one weather system: the ridge of high pressure area in south China which steers the typhoon southward, preventing it from moving to the north,” Nilo said.

Still experiencing generally good weather except for cloudy skies on Thursday afternoon, Nilo warned the public not to underestimate Santi because of the rains and wind it carries.

He noted Santi will dump an average of 10-15 millimeters of rainfall per hour, and could reach a high of 185 kph winds, enough to topple billboards and trees and other structures.

Santi’s rainband can reach 200 kilometers in diameter which means, it can inundate as far as Mountain Province in northern Luzon to Mindoro Island in Southern Luzon.

Santi is still churning in the Pacific hence, may further intensify, fuelled by the warm atmospheric conditions over the ocean, he said.

Nilo said the possibility of raising signal number 4 in Metro Manila is not far fetched because Santi will directly pass the area, in addition to the pushing effect of HPA.

He said there is 30 percent probability that Santi will directly hit Metro Manila.

Meanwhile, Nilo advised travellers to postpone their trip, particularly those travelling by sea, because of inclement weather and rough sea conditions Friday until the weekend.

“My advice is, it is very dangerous to travel especially those going to Visayas and Mindanao, they may want to postpone it,” he suggested.

The Pagasa advised disaster officials particularly in Nueva Viscaya, Nueva Ecija, Quirino, Pampanga, Tarlac, Quezon, Laguna, Bulacan, Zambales and Pampanga to be ready of possible flashfloods, landslides and storm surges.

Signal number 2 is raised over Polillo Island while Isabela, Ifugao, Aurora, Quirino, Nueva Viscaya, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Rizal, Quezon, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, and Catanduanes were placed under signal number 1.

Residents in low-lying areas and near mountain slopes under signal number 2 and 1 are urged to take all the necessary precautionary measures against flashfloods and landslides, the Pagasa said.

Those living along the coast in areas under signal number 2 are asked to be on alert against storm surges and big waves generated by the typhoon, it added.

PIA Dispatch - Wednesday, October 28, 2009

PGMA inspects main irrigation canal in Lubao

LUBAO, Pampanga – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo this afternoon inspected the main irrigation canal of Barangay San Isidro here which residents and barangay officials have requested her to rehabilitate.

The canal, used for the irrigation of farmlands, still has an unconcreted portion stretching some 1.5 kilometers towards the Porac-Gumain river, its main source of water.

Residents have been complaining of the build-up of silt and debris clogging the irrigation canal.

The residents and local government officials, led by San Isidro Barangay Captain Emmanuel Santos, are asking the President for funding assistance in the amount of P500,000 for the concreting project.

Once completed, residents in Bgy. San Isidro stand to benefit from the improved irrigation capabilities of the canal.

PGMA to leave a legacy of fiscal prudence to her successor—Malacanang

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is exerting all efforts to leave a legacy of fiscal prudence to her successor.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita made the observation in a press briefing held today in MalacaƱang to squelch speculations that the next president will inherit a bankrupt government.

He said President Arroyo had initially intended to balance the budget before her term ends in 2010. This goal, however, proved unattainable when the country had to pump-prime the economy in the face of the global economic meltdown that drove its major trading partners notably, the United States and Japan, into recession last year.

She increased infrastructure spending to provide laid off Filipinos with jobs, even as she beefed up financial assistance to the poorest of the poor.

Ermita acknowledged that the huge amount needed to embark on the reconstruction program in the aftermath of three consecutive typhoons since September this year will aggravate the situation.

“The President, with the help of her economic team, is doing everything to put the fiscal position in order,” Ermita said. I don’t see any president wishing to leave a legacy of uncertainty to the successor.”

Ermita pointed out that, based on the economic briefing given the President every week, he sees the economy improving and the global recession easing up.

This year, the World Bank projects the Philippine gross domestic products or total domestic output will grow by one percent.

PGMA inaugurates three-classroom building in Lubao, Pampanga

LUBAO, Pampanga – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo inaugurated the newly renovated three-classroom school building of the Prado Siongco Elementary School (PSES) during her visit to the province this afternoon.

PSES is part of the President’s ambitious education program aimed at bridging the discrepancy in the number of classrooms that can accommodate a fair number of students in an atmosphere conducive to learning.

The President, assisted by Lubao Mayor Dennis Pineda, Department of Education Region III Regional Director Mario Ramirez, and PSES principal Myrna Manalang, unveiled the marker that formally opened the school building to PSES student’s use.

The renovation of the school building, which was completed only last Oct. 22, was made possible through a P500,000 allocation from the President’s Social Fund.

Analisa Domamay, a grade 1 teacher who was interviewed by the President, was effusive in thanking the Chief Executive, saying teaching in the school was now much more fulfilling.

“It is now more relaxing to teach at PSES,” Domamay said in Kapampanga, adding, “because the atmosphere in the school is now more conducive to learning.”

Kyle Vincent Miguel, a grade 3 student, was equally profuse in expressing his and his classmates’ thanks to the President for having the school building renovated.

Miguel, whose favorite subjects are English and Math, said that now, his dream to finish his studies and become a doctor are now well within reach.

In reply, the President offered this piece of advice to Miguel, “Study hard,” eliciting applause from some 300 students, teachers, local government officials and residents of Bgy. Pardo Siongco.

From the school, the President and her party visited the ongoing PGMA Caravan that offered free medical, dental, therapeutic, and beauty services to residents.

New storm enters RP tonight

Disaster officials in Central Luzon and Metro Manila are warned anew against the looming storm that will hit the area towards the end of the week.

In it's 11 a.m. advisory, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said that tropical storm Mirinae will enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility tonight, October 28.

"It may enter the Philippine area of responsibility as early as Wednesday night or early Thursday," Pagasa head Prisco Nilo said.

The storm was spotted 1,520 kilometers east of Central Luzon with maximum sustained winds of 105 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 135 kph and is forecast to move west-northwest at 30 kph.

Nilo said Mirinae continues to intensify and its winds may reach up to 200 kph.

He however said that the cyclone will not affect any part the country in the next 36 hours because its rainbands remains at sea.

The 19th storm to enter PAR, Mirinae will be named Santi once it's in the Philippine territory tonight.

The storm may hit Central Luzon and even affect Metro Manila, Nilo warned.

Meanwhile Mindanao  is being affected by Intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), and will likely experience mostly cloudy skies with scattered rainshowers and thunderstorms.

Metro Manila, and the rest of the country will have partly cloudy to at times cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms, the Pagasa said.

Relief caravan to go to Ilocos, Cagayan, CAR and Southern Luzon  next week

The government ‘s relief caravan is set to embark this week to the Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, Cordillera Administrative Region and Southern Luzon .

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita announced this during a press briefing in MalacaƱang today even as he stressed that the government is more than ever prepared for the next weather disturbance that is expected to swirl into the Philippine area of responsibility this weekend.

The relief food packs and clothing will be unloaded at the headquarters of local disaster coordinating councils for eventual distribution to residents displaced by flooding and landslides.

“We are always on the alert and confident that with what happened with Ondoy and Pepeng, our radar screen is on preparation and mitigation measures to prevent further loss of lives and properties,” he said.

He said rescue, relief and mitigating measures are already in place because of the government’s preparation for typhoon “Ramil” that did not hit Northern Luzon last week.

“All rescue and mitigating equipment are now in Luzon,” he said.

The PAGASA said the weather disturbance might hit land on Saturday or Sunday and was threatening the same parts of Luzon that were battered by strong typhoons this month.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

PIA Dispatch - Tuesday, October 27, 2009

PGMA wants relief caravans moved to storm path

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said she wants the relief caravans moved to their intended destinations beginning tomorrow (Wednesday, Oct. 28) even before the new storm hits on Saturday or Sunday.

At the Cabinet and National Disaster Coordinating Council here, the President said “we must start pre-positioning our assets to Northern and Central Luzon “in anticipation of the storm.”

The President also directed that all relief efforts should be coursed through the newly formed National Private-Public Reconstruction Commission, which is chaired by PLDT Group Manuel Pangilinan.

She told Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, co-chairman of the Reconstruction Commission, to avail of aid programs from foreign governments such as AusAid of Australia, the Canadian Investment and Development Agency, and the US Agency for International Development.

The commission, she said, should secure grants from these aid agencies and the United Nations than ask for loans from the World Bank and foreign lending institutions.

Of the P23.5 billion damage in agriculture wrought by Ondoy and Pepeng, rice crops accounted for P19.7 billion. Thus, the National Food Authority’s buffer stock position has dropped to 60 days from 90 days,

The President said she wants the relief assets (boats and others) pre-positioned in vulnerable and low-lying areas to enable the government to move people to safer grounds at a moment’s notice.

According to the President she plans to inspect the relocation site in Rodriguez, Rizal with, Vice President Noli de Castro, chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council.

De Castro had informed the President, the government would be ready to move the first 500 families to Rodriguez, Rizal, on November 9.”

PGMA holds Cabinet meeting at ally’s birthday

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Tuesday broke tradition by holding her joint Cabinet and National Disaster Coordinating Council meeting at the residence of Rep. Aurelio Gonzales (3rd district), who is celebrating his birthday.

The President and her Cabinet members will brief the media at Gonzales’ old house, beside the new one where the Cabinet and NDCC meetings will be held.

Gonzales is a close ally who was handpicked by the President as head of Lakas-Kampi CMD party’s committee on overseas Filipino workers.

Local papers said that “Cong. Dong,” as Gonzales is called, is regarded by critics as the President’s third son owing to his closeness to the Chief Executive who is fully supportive of his various plans and programs for the district.

Gonzales is supporting 16,000 poor but deserving students from elementary to college and even out of school youth since assuming his post in 2007. Outside of education, his other projects are in agricultural infrastructure, livelihood, health and social projects.

With President Arroyo’s help, he was able to implement the massive rehabilitation plan for the lahar-devastated Bacolor province through Republic Act 9506, which the neophyte Gonzales authored last year.

Before the Cabinet meeting, the President inaugurated the P200-million 10-km Quezon road that straddles the 3rd and 4th districts. It is one of the major road infrastructure projects in the two districts under the Arroyo administration.

Quezon Road is a vital access to the eastern towns of Pampanga, Nueva Ecija and Northern Luzon.

Later the President will attend the coronation of the Holy Rosary at the Sto. Domingo Parish in Mexico, Pampanga under Fr. Homer Policarpio.

After the Cabinet meeting, she motors to Sindalan to award the financial subsidies to around 1,500 high school and college scholars from Arayat, Sta. Ana, Mexico, Bacolor and San Fernando.

Palace confident on oil firms’ sense of corporate responsibility

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga -- Malacanang is confident oil companies will heed its appeal to roll back oil prices to the Oct. 15 levels in the wake of the national calamity wrought by typhoons of storms Ondoy, Pepeng and Ramil.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said in a briefing before the Cabinet meeting here that government is not alarmed or surprised at the warning issued by oil companies of possible shortage.

He said they were merely “shocked at the political will and determination of President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo to exercise the powers vested on her by the law.”

Oil firms had threatened to stop importing to replenish their stocks after using up their current inventory.

Remonde appealed to the oil companies’ sense of corporate social responsibility and take into consideration the welfare of the greater majority of the people.

“The government is not forgetting its commitment to ensure a deregulated environment for the oil sector under the Oil Deregulation Law,” Remonde stressed.

As to how long the government would maintain the state of calamity, Remonde said, it would depend on the studies and evaluations made by the National Disaster Coordinating Council and other concerned agencies.

From their recommendations, the President, could decide whether to lift the state of calamity.

Remonde was joined in the briefing by Cabinet Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Press Undersecretary Anthony Golez and Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Gary Olivar.

PGMA inaugurates Quezon road in Pampanga

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Tuesday led the inauguration of the newly-rehabilitated Tulaoc- Sto.Domingo Road  better known as Quezon road which was damaged by heavy rains brought by typhoons Frank and Julian.

Together with Pampanga 4th District Representative Ana York Bondoc, Pampanga 3rd District Representative Aurelio Gonzales, Jr. and other officials, the Chief Executive made an inaugural drive thru of the Tulaoc-Sto. Domingo Road (San Simon section) all the way to the Sto. Domingo (Mexico  section).

The Quezon Road which transverses the towns of San Simon and Mexico also serves as an alternate route to the Manila North Road and the Gapan-Olongapo Roads, bypassing the City of San Fernando and Sto. Tomas, Pampanga for traffic to and from the northern provinces of Luzon.

With its rehabilitation, DPWH Regional Director Alfredo Tolentino said it will result to shorter travel time and assure vehicle cost savings, especially for food haulers coming from the provinces of Nueva Ecija and Tarlac bound for Manila and vice versa.

FDA launches hotline for drug complaints or problems
Any complaints on the drug you’re taking?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Department of Health (DOH) launched today a hotline for reporting any complaints of drugs sold in the country.
Consumers may now report to the FDA any complaint or problem with their medicines to telephone # 807-8275, or text 0905-4171771 or 0909-2080500, or email at Reports may also be made through the Bantay Gamot Report Forms available in most drugstores.
“In this age of globalization, consumerism, free trade, and increasing use of the internet, the ordinary person now has easy access to different drugs and medicines. Combine this with the penchant for self-medication and the need to improve the drug dispensing practices of our pharmacists and we have a potentially harmful situation where drug safety is questioned,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III declared.
To address this situation, the FDA came up with the Medicines Surveillance Integrating Consumer Reporting Project in the National Capital Region which aims to educate consumers on the proper use of drugs and increase consumer awareness as to where to report complaints or problems with their medicines.
Previously, the FDA has received consumer reports that led to the detection of substandard drug preparations, adverse drug reactions and counterfeit medicines.
“These reports involved illegal business operation practices, such as operating without a license or a registered pharmacist, unlawful dispensing of drugs in the absence of a pharmacist, selling of unregistered drug products, or expired drugs, or suspected counterfeit drugs,” Duque explained.
Other reports were about errors in drug dispensing, common side effects of medicines, lack of drug efficacy, false claims of food supplements, and quality defects,” the health chief added.
“All reports will be treated as confidential and shall be analyzed and investigated following FDA protocol.” Duque assured.

In case of complaints against any drug, the caller may give his name, address, and contact numbers; however, in case of adverse drug reactions, the caller will be asked to give this information and other clinical data as needed.

“The FDA is committed to guard efficiently our nation’s drug supply and advocates patient care to protect the right to health of every Filipino,” Duque concluded.

Monday, 26 October 2009

PIA Dispatch - Monday, October 26, 2009

Residents of Porac village thank PGMA for completed potable water supply system

PORAC, Pampanga, Oct. 26 -- Residents in this northwestern part of the province now enjoy safe and potable drinking water, thanks to the Arroyo administration's water supply development in the rural communities.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, together with Porac Mayor Rogelio Santos, Barangay Chairman Virgilio Sarmiento and other local executives on Monday inspected the completed Kalayaan Barangay Potable Water Supply System in Barangay Salu here.

Brig. Gen. Pedro Rieza Jr., head of the Philippine Air Force’s 355th Engineering Wing based in Basa Airbase, briefed the Chief Executive on the completed project, which is part of the present administration’s mission of providing clean and affordable water to every households in 2010.

Santos said they are very thankful for the President’s help in providing basic services to his constituents who were badly affected when Mt. Pinatubo  erupted in 1991.

"Kami po ay lubos na nagpapasalamat sa lahat ng suporta ni Pangulong Arroyo (We are very thankful to President Arroyo for all her support),” the mayor said.

Sarmiento, for his part, expressed confidence that with the completion of the potable water system project, the health, sanitation, and economic living conditions of the marginalized households will be addressed.

Local residents likewise expressed their deep gratitude to the Chief Executive as they would no longer have to worry about their children’s health and safety.

“Thank you very much for providing us this new potable water system. Life would then be easier and more convenient for us,” Gloria Carreon, one of the locals, said.

PGMA orders implementation of Ro-Ro transport in BIMP-EAGA

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered the immediate implementation of a roll-on roll-off transport system in the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East Asia Growth Center (BIMP-EAGA).

The Chief Executive issued the directive during the 6th BIMP-EAGA Summit held Cha Am, Hua-Hin, Thailand last Sunday (Oct. 25).

Mindanao Economic Development Council Chair Jesus Dureza said the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will have to undertake a study for such a project, projected to cost P40 million. This early, however, the President wants the transport system set up in the port of Glan in Sarangani, which she recently inaugurated, and Tahuna in Indonesia.

Indonesia is committed to construct a port at Tahuna.

The President espoused the idea of establishing a roro system within ASEAN during the ASEAN Summit, held here last February.

In the same meeting, the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam agreed to put up a sardines factory in Dipolog, Zamboanga del Norte.

PGMA arrives from 15th ASEAN Summit in Thailand

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo arrived Sunday night at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) from Thailand, where she attended the 15th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits in Hua Hin, October 23 to 25.

Accompanied by Press Secretary Cerge Remonde and Trade Secretary Peter Favila, the President was met by a contingent of honor guards.

In an interview, Remonde said the President was pleased with the outcome of the Summit.

Among the highlights of the Summit were the adoption of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), the creation of the Commission on Rights of Women and Children, the agreement to enhance intra-regional connectivity, both in terms of transportation and communication, and the setting-up of a permanent regional emergency rice reserve due to the increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters that hit the region.

DOH to continue fight vs. A(H1N1), other diseases

The Department of Health (DOH) will continue its fight against communicable diseases.

In a media briefing this afternoon in Malacanang, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said the first wave of A(H1N1) has been contained. Fortunately, he added, there has been no reported case yet of a re-emergence of the virus or its possible mutation.

However, according to Duque, the public should take the necessary precautions and practice hygiene to keep not only the swine flu but also common flu, hepatitis, typhoid, leptospirosis, and dengue at bay.

So far, Duque stressed, there is a 99 percent recovery rate from the 5,212 cases of AH1N1 detected since it first entered the country on May 23.

He said the 30 deaths recorded from the virus was quiet small compared to other countries due to government prevention and mitigation measures coupled with public awareness.

“We have managed to hold our death rate compared to other countries,” Duque said.

Since April, Duque noted, the government has taken steps to contain the virus, something the World Health Organization (WHO) has duly noted.

The government has set aside P100 million for the acquisition of AH1N1 vaccines from WHO and directly from drug manufacturers.

Palace lauds oil price rollback

Malacanang today lauded two independent oil players for rolling back the prices of their products.

Unioil Petroleum Philippines and Flying V slashed the prices of their petroleum products to as much as P2 per liter, to their Oct. 15 levels, in response to a government directive to keep oil prices stable in Luzon during the state of calamity.

In a media briefing this afternoon, Presidential Spokesperson and Press Undersecretary Anthony Golez thanked the two firms.

On Friday, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Executive Order No. 836 directing the oil industry players to "maintain prices of petroleum products prevailing on the last landfall of Typhoon Pepeng during the period of Emergency in the entire island of Luzon."

The President cited Section 14 of the Oil Deregulation Law, which states that "in times of national emergency, when the public interest so requires, the Department of Energy (DOE) may, during the emergency and under reasonable terms prescribed by it, temporarily take over or direct the operation of any person engaged in the industry."

Golez said the DOE-DOJ task force, in charge of investigating cases of alleged price fixing and cartelization, will meet this afternoon to come up with guidelines on effective implementation of the directive.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

PIA Dispatch - Friday, October 23, 2009

PGMA to join ASEAN Summit in Thailand tomorrow

CHA-AM, HUA HIN, Thailand - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will join tomorrow (Saturday,Oct. 24) other ASEAN heads of state in a series of meetings that hopefully, will lead to changes in the economic, social, educational, and environmental fabric of South East Asia and the rest of Asia.

The 15th Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Related Summit started this morning here at the Royal Dusit Grand Ballroom of the Royal Dusit Hotel with an opening statement by Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, but without four of the 10 leaders.

The ASEAN Secretariat said that apart from President Arroyo, the three other ASEAN leaders who skipped the opening ceremony were Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

ASEAN is composed of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam.

In a text message, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said President Arroyo and her delegation will arrive here Saturday morning in time for a series of meetings with ASEAN leaders and their counterparts from Japan, South Korea, China, India, New Zealand, and Australia.

These leaders chose to attend to pressing matters at home.

Other meetings scheduled today are three informal meetings with representatives from the ASEAN youths and civil society, the inauguration of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Human Rights Commission, and a working lunch with representatives from the regional business sector.

At the gala dinner tonight, the ASEAN leaders are expected to discuss regional and international issues of common concern.

A declaration is expected to be issued by ASEAN leaders to strengthen regional cooperation on education.

Among many others, they will pledge to "develop a common content on ASEAN for schools as a reference for teacher training and teaching." They will also seek greater mobility of skilled workers within the region.

On Saturday, they will meet their counterparts from Japan, China and South Korea on a bilateral basis and also in the platform called the ASEAN-Plus-Three.

On Sunday, leaders from India, Australia, and New Zealand will join ASEAN leaders when they discuss climate change, food and fuel security, and disaster management.

The ASEAN leaders are setting in place the legal, financial, and structural framework for the realization of a single ASEAN Community by 2015, along the lines of the European Union (EU).

Expected highlights of the summits are the adoption of a declaration on climate change as well as the adoption of a declaration on education cooperation to achieve an ASEAN Community.

The leaders will discuss the formation of a Network of East Asian Think-Tanks (NEAT) and ways to enhance social and cultural cohesiveness among the young people of ASEAN. Also on the agenda are the feasibility study on East Asia Free Trade Area (EAFTA), a memorandum of understanding (MOU) establishing the ASEAN-China Centre, and a MoU between ASEAN and China on Intellectual Property cooperation.

  During the summits, ASEAN leaders will also meet with representatives from the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA), ASEAN Youth, and ASEAN Civil Society Organizations in a clear reflection of ASEAN’s committment to promote people’s participation in the ASEAN Community-building process.

PGMA signs landmark Climate Change law

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed today an act that institutionalizes response to climate change.

The Philippine Climate Change Act of 2009 or Republic Act No. 9729 makes it a government policy to formulate and establish a strategy and program to deal with the effects of typhoons and other weather disturbances, which have increased in frequency and intensity as a result of changes in the climatic pattern.

The new law calls for the establishment of a National Framework Strategy and Program on Climate Change, which will focus on mitigation and adaptation – the two instruments to battle climate change – from the highest levels of government down to the barangay.

Under the law, an autonomous policy-making body, known as Climate Change Commission, to be headed by the president, will set up, coordinate, monitor, and evaluate action plans for the express purpose of preparing the country against heavy rainfall that bring floods and landslides, as well as strong winds, as a result of typhoons.

The law also calls for the creation of a roadmap to reduce risk of disasters on one hand and keep local carbon emissions within manageable levels on the other.

Called Disaster Risk Reduction or DRR, this program includes emergency preparedness and rescue and relief operations.

The Climate Change Commission will have as members the presidents of the League of Provinces, League of Cities, League of Municipalities, and the Liga ng mga Barangay, to mark the crucial involvement of local communities in addressing climate change.

Immediately after the signing, the president ordered Secretary Heherson Alvarez, presidential adviser on Global Warming and Climate Change, to ask developed nations to reduce global carbon emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, which is scheduled for a renegotiation after it expires in 2012.

Sen. Loren Legarda, the law’s principal author, said the signing is very timely in the aftermath of destructive typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng.” She added that as vice chairman of the Senate Committee on the Budget she will work for the allocation of resources for the immediate implementation of the law.

“This pioneering landmark bill is the first in ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) and probably in Asia,” Legarda said.

Apart from Alvarez and Legarda, the historic signing was witnessed by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Jose Atienza, and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

Also present were members of the House of Representatives, local government executives, the diplomatic corps, environmental organizations, and the religious and business sectors.

138 families evacuated in Ilocos Region due to Typhoon 'Ramil'

SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union, Oct. 23 -- At least 378 families comprising of 1,310 persons were evacuated in La Union and Ilocos Norte due to intermittent rains and winds spawned by Typhoon “Ramil”, which is now threatening the northern part of the country.

A report of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) signed by Regional Director Eugene Cabrera showed that as of noon on Friday, the evacuees were accommodated in nine evacuation centers located in Bangar with three, two each in Agoo and Aringay, and one in Luna, all in La Union; and also one in Banna, Ilocos Norte.

Of those evacuated, 192 families or 744 persons in Bangar, 125 or 386 persons in Aringay, 20 or 69 persons in Agoo, 26 or 69 persons in Luna, all in La Union.

There were also 15 families or 47 persons who were evacuated in Banna, Ilocos Norte.

Director Cabrera said the all Disaster Coordinating Councils are now monitoring the situation in Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur.

No damage was reported yet.

RP infra modernization boosts investor confidence

The modernization of major infrastructure facilities that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has initiated after assuming the presidency in 2001 bolsters the confidence of American firms wishing to expand their investments in the Philippines.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney made the assessment after she witnessed the opening of the 12th call center facility of Convergys at the 8th floor of Glorietta 5 mall on Ayala Avenue in Makati City yesterday (Thursday).

“Ambassador Kenny said the Philippine government, by building the necessary infrastructure, has bolstered the confidence of American firms to invest in the country,” Remonde quoted Kenny as saying during the inauguration of Convergys’ biggest call center facility in the country.

At the inauguration ceremonies, Remonde noted that Marife Zamora, Convergys country manager, hailed President Macapagal-Arroyo for her unwavering support to call center firms which resulted in the industry’s phenomenal growth.

“The word ‘phenomenal’ is very appropriate. Today, the industry employs more than 400,000 young men and women, college graduates and even high school graduates,” Remonde said in his regular Friday press briefing.

Since she assumed the presidency in 2001, the Chief Executive has directed the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Transportation and Communication (DoTC) to construct and rehabilitate infrastructure projects that will have a big impact to the economy.

Among these infrastructure projects are the rehabilitation and modernization of the South and North Luzon expressways and upgrading of the telecommunication facilities.

Meanwhile, Chairman Ray Anthony Chua of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) informed the President that the number of employees in the BPO industry is expected to increase by 15 to 20 percent before the end of the year.

Mt. Mayon displays signs of heightened restiveness

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 23 (PNA) - Mayon Volcano continues to disgorge fluctuating levels of sulfur dioxide gas - a sign that may lead to an eruption.

This prompted the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) to be on heightened alert. It is now closely checking the restive behavior of the volcano signified by high level of sulfur dioxide emission and high and low frequency volcanic quakes.

Phivolcs scientists noted the fluctuating SO2 gas disgorge levels by the volcano for the past 72 hours. It spewed 1,429 tons of gas on Thursday - a record breaking manifestation since the volcano exhibited signs of restlessness in July.

Phivolcs bulletin on Friday said the volcano disgorged 435 tons of Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) for the past 24 hours, which is way below the 1,429 tons on Thursday, 586 tons on Wednesday and the 188 tons on Tuesday.

The agency seismic instruments detected only four high and low frequency volcanic earthquakes, bringing to a total of 69 the quakes recorded this month.

Scientists said the volcano’s abnormality levels are indication of a possible eruptive state.

Phivolcs said the high and low frequency harmonic quakes detected by seismic instruments signify that magma intrusion is developing in the volcano’s crater vent.

Ed Laguerta, Phivolcs resident volcanologist, said the agency is still assessing the abnormal state of the volcano based on given parameters like ground deformation, volcanic quakes and gas emission, and crater glow.

Precise Leveling results indicate the volcano's edifice remains inflated at 6.0 mm swelling at the Buang lines while Lidong lines posted a 1.0 mm inflation.

The volcano crater glow remained at intensity level II, while steam emission was at a moderate level.

These significant volcanic abnormality signs prompted disaster authorities to strictly enforce the “no entry” rule in designated danger zone areas surrounding the volcano.

Police and military personnel manning the 12 checkpoints along the danger zone at the volcano’s down slope were directed to enforce the “no human activity” rule inside the designated danger zone areas covering the towns of Sto. Domingo, Daraga, Camalig, including the cities of Ligao, Tabaco and this city.

Alert level 2 remains hoisted over Mayon Volcano. Phivolcs strongly recommended that the 6-km Permanent Danger Zone including the 7-km extended danger zones be strictly off limits to any human activity due to threat of sudden explosions and rockfalls from the upper slopes of the volcano.