World Bank execs call on P-Noy
President Benigno S. Aquino III welcomed today ranking officials of the World Bank (WB) during a courtesy call at the Yellow Room of the Malacanang Guest House.
The President received Mr. James Adams, WB vice president for the East Asia Pacific, who was accompanied by WB Philippines Director Bert Hofman and Jesse Ang, resident representative of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the WB Group which promotes sustainable private sector investment to improve the quality of lives in developing countries.
The WB is a major source of development assistance and technical support in terms of development policies and reform programs in infrastructure, social development, education, health, among others.
Joining the President in welcoming the callers were Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, and Social Welfare Undersecretary Alicia Bala.
Palace studying proposal to give excess NFA rice imports to RP’s poor
Malacañang today said that it will study suggestions that President Benigno S. Aquino III allow the distribution of surplus imported rice to poor families instead of leaving the grains to rot in warehouses.
“Certainly isang magandang suhestyon yon, pero pag-aaralan pa” (Certainbly that is a good suggestion, but we will study it), Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing today.
Lacierda said National Food Authority (NFA) administrator Lito Banayo had hinted at the possibility of dispensing the excess supply of rice to the poor. A farmer’s group, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, concurred with the NFA chief’s suggestion and urged President Aquino the other day to distribute the surplus rice to the more than four million impoverished Filipinos.
Lacierda said Banayo is currently assessing the condition of the rice stocks stored in NFA warehouses.
He also said Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman would also be consulted regarding Banayo’s recommendation.
In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday, President Aquino revealed that due to the over importation of rice during the Arroyo administration, excess supply was left to rot in warehouses, while the government agonizes over a P171.6 billion debt incurred by the NFA in rice importation as of May 2010.
Banayo has said that the NFA, with the help of the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of investigation would conduct a probe that will involve a system and management audit on the reported over-importation of rice and determine the possible accountability of parties involved.
Bahay Pangarap ready for P-Noy
The Bahay Pangarap is now ready to accommodate President Benigno S. Aquino III any moment he decides to take up residence within the Malacanang compound in Manila, the head of Palace guards said today.
Presidential Security Group (PSG) chief Colonel Ramon Mateo Dizon said the PSG has started strengthening security around Bahay Pangarap, which is included in the plan along with the renovation.
“So, as far as I know, by this weekend, we will be ready whenever the President wants to transfer. And that date is up to the President,” Dizon told Palace reporters in a news conference in Malacanang today.
Dizon said they have not only “hardened” the security of the house itself, but the security systems that were placed within the area.
“The security operating procedures have always been strict in that area because that is where the President usually plays golf. So, now that the President has decided to transfer to Bahay Pangarap, we have tightened our security systems in the area,” he said.
Part of the security arrangements, Dizon said, is the strengthening of procedures at the checkpoints and limiting access to the area.
Dizon said they have requested the Coast Guard to strengthen the security systems along the river, although these security systems have been in placed even during the time of Mrs. Aquino, the President’s mother.
“This is more or less a review of the (security) systems and making sure that these are being followed,” he said.
Dizon assured that the PSG will try not to limit the traffic in Pasig River, being a transportation hub used by a lot of people for commerce.
He said minor changes were made in the Bahay Pangarap like adding rooms for the household, and for the security personnel who will stay with the President. One room was also constructed for the President’s guests.
Asked about the concern on the overflowing of Pasig River, Dizon said: “During Ondoy, one step was left. So, there’s no concern on flooding.”
The Bahay Pangarap originally was intended by former President Manuel Quezon IIII as a recreational Park for the President of the Philippines.