Monday, 30 August 2010

PIA Dispatch - Monday, August 30, 2010

President Aquino to award top policemen and teachers in Malacañang Tuesday

President Benigno S. Aquino III will lead awarding ceremonies for the country’s top teachers and policemen in service in Malacañang on Tuesday (August 31).

The Chief Executive will confer gold medallions to the winners who were chosen by the Metrobank Foundation, the main proponent of the 2010 Search for the Outstanding Teachers (SOT) and the Country’s Outstanding Policemen in Service (COPS).

This year’s SOT awardees are:

A. Elementary Category:

  • Grace U. Salvatus, Master Teacher 1, Municipal Sector Elementary School, Calauag, QuezonSpecialization: English  
  • Miladith B. Polutan, Master Teacher 1, Oroquieta City Central Elementary School, Oroquieta CitySpecialization: SPED  
  • Conchita A. Ibarondo, Master Teacher II, San Antonio Elementary School - San Antonio, Iriga CitySpecialization: Filipino  
  • Nancy S. Aquino, Master Teacher II, Mlang Pilot Elementary School, Mlang, CotabatoSpecialization: Filipino  

B. Secondary Category

  • Janeth Morata-Fuentes , Special Science Teacher III, , Philippine Science High School - Eastern Visayas Campus;Specialization: Chemistry 
  • Mercidita S. Villamayor, Associate Professor III, , Bukidnon State University;Specialization: Mathematics 
  • Estrelita A. Peña, Master Teacher I, Kabasalan Natonal High School, Zamboanga Sibugay;Specialization: Mathematics,  
  • Mercelita J. Labial, English Department Chair, Senior Faculty, Xavier University High School (Ateneo De Cagayan), Cagayan de Oro CitySpecialization: English Language & Literature.  

C. Higher Education Category:

  • Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, Professor VI, Specialization: Digital Signal Processing, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City; 
  • Raymund C. Sison, Full Professor VI, Specialization: Software Engineering, De La Salle University, City of Manila. 

This year’s COPS recipients are the ff:

A. Police Commissioned Officers:

  • PSupt Leo Manaog Francisco, Chief, Regional Police Intelligence and Operation Unit, National Capital Region Police Command, Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City; 
  • PSupt Florencio Teodosio Ortilla, Acting Chief, Regional Operations Division, Police Regional Office, Davao City; 
  • PSupt Noel Ruto Ponsaran, Regional Chaplain, Chaplain Service, Police Regional Office XI, Davao City; and, 
  • PSupt Sidney Navarro Villaflor, Chief of Police, San Jose City Police Station, San Jose City, Nueva Ecija. 

B. Police Non-commissioned Officers:

  • PO3 Edilberto Barabas Euraoba III, Public Information Officer/PoliceCommunity Relations, Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office, Camp F. Fernandez, Jr. Agan-an, Sibulan, Negros Oriental;
  • PO3 Shella Mae Acanto Sangrines, Chief, Complaints and Investigation Section/Anti-Human Trafficking Desk PNCO, Regional Women and Children Protection Desk, Camp Martin, Delgado, Iloilo City;
  • PO3 Zoraida Masillam Aripin, Chief, Women and Children Desk Investigator, Zamboanga City Police Station 9, Ayala, Zamboanga City, Zamboanga Del Sur;
  • PO3 Joey Valerta Castillon, Admin and Police Community, Relation Police Non-Commissioned Officer, Tobias Fornier Police Station, Tobias Fornier, Antique;
  • SPO2 Hermie Soriano Raymundo, Chief Clerk Special Investigator, Provincial Investigation and Detective Management Branch, Pangasinan Police Provincial Office, Lingayen, Pangasinan;
  • PO3 Roel Padernal Paclibar, Police Community Relations Non-Commissioned Officer, Tacurong City Police Station, Poblacion, Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao Province.

Expected to join the President in the awarding rites include: Dr. George S.K. Ty, Chairman, Metrobank Foundation; Armin A. Luistro, FSC, Secretary, Department of Education; Dr. Patricia B. Licuanan, Chairperson, Commission on Higher Education; Leila M. de Lima, Secretary, Department of Justice and Co-Chairperson, 2010 COPS Final Board of Judges; Jesse M. Robredo, Secretary, Department of Interior and Local Government and Jesus A. Versoza, Police Director-General, Philippine National Police. (OPS)

PIA Dispatch - Sunday, August 29, 2010

Aquino exhorts Filipinos to emulate sacrifices of national heroes

President Benigno S. Aquino III called on all Filipinos to emulate the example set forth by our national heroes whose supreme sacrifice for the nation will guide us in our quest to rise above our present situation and lift the Philippines to greatness.

In his speech keynoting the commemoration of National Heroes Day held at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City on Sunday, the Chief Executive said the patriotism and bravery of our national heroes to combat any and all forms of oppression is inherent in all Filipinos. 

“Wala na nga po talagang mas hihigit pang antas ng kagitingan sa pagbubuwis ng buhay para sa bayan (Giving up one’s life for one’s country is the pinnacle of heroism),” President Aquino said. 

According to the President, Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio and Fathers Gomez, Burgos and Zamora (GomBurZa) who, he said, fought the Spanish oppression are examples of this courage and patriotism.

“My father Ninoy, despite the threat to his life, came back after being exiled in the United States to fight a dictator,” President Aquino said.

“Sila ang hindi nakontento sa kalagayan ng kanilang bansa kaya’t iniwan nila ng buong tapang ang ginhawa at tahimik na buhay. Nakibaka sila, sumanib sa mga kilusan at hindi muna inisip ang sarili upang ipaglaban ang karapatan ng bawat Pilipino (They were not contented with the country’s condition so they left their quiet lives and selflessly joined the opposition to fight for the rights of all Filipinos),” he added.

“Sila ang ating ehemplo ng kabayanihan at kasabay po ng buong taimtim nating pagtanaw sa kanilang sakripisyo ay ang pagsasabuhay sana natin sa kanilang ipinaglabang adhikain (They are the epitome of patriotism and I hope that together with our commemoration of their sacrifices, we will try to emulate and inculcate in our lives their exemplary virtues),” President Aquino said.

The President said that while our forefathers died for our country, all we have to do to follow their example is to “join hands and help each other without expecting anything in return.”

“Sa katunayan, sapat nang kabayanihan ang magawa natin ang tungkulin nating maging isang mabuti at responsableng Filipino (In fact, being a good and responsible Filipino is enough),” the President said. 

He, however, lamented that some have disregarded this simple fact and have chosen another path.

“Pinipili po nilang makulong sa rehas ng kadamutan at pagkakanya-kanya. Naka-kadena pa rin sila sa kultura ng pagwawalang-bahala at pagbabatuhan ng sisi (They have chosen to remain in a jail of selfishness. They are chained to the culture of indifference and blame-throwing),” he said, adding that these are the roots of corruption and stealing— putting one’s self interest first instead of the welfare of others.)

The President stressed that this “is the biggest obstacle in our quest to take the straight path to change.”

“Kaya naman po para sa kinabukasan ng ating mga anak at salinlahi, gusto kong himukin ang lahat na magkusang tumulong sa pagpapalaganap ng tunay na kahulugan ng kabayanihan: ang pagbibigay ng panahon at lakas upang magmasid at magbantay sa ating pamahalaan, ang paglalaan ng oras para maging gabay ng mga naghihirap na kababayan, ang pagpapatibay sa mayamang gunita at kultura ng pagiging Pilipino (So for the future of our children and race, I encourage all Filipinos to help spread the true meaning of heroism: the giving of time and energy to watch our government, giving time to help our impoverished brothers and sisters, and the strengthening of our rich Filipino culture),” the President concluded. (OPS)

PIA Dispatch - Saturday, August 28, 2010

Be calm, Palace tells Hongkong-based Pinoys

In the face of an anticipated protest rally Sunday in a popular park in the city frequented by Hongkong-based Filipino domestic helpers, Malacañang called for “calm and sobriety” so as not to add to the tension already gripping both countries.

In an interview over Radyo ng Bayan Saturday, Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Sonny Coloma said “let us just allow the Hongkong nationals to vent their ire over the tragic hostage-taking of Aug.23.”

“Lets be calm and careful with what we say, and use the normal precautions,” said Coloma.

Filipino domestic helpers according to Coloma, have always been a major help to Hongkong families.

As to whether he would advise the Filipino maids in Hongkong not to go to the park on Sunday, Coloma said there is a consul general and labor attaché there “who can estimate the situation on the ground much better than us. Let them just do it, if necessary,” Coloma added.

“Back home, we are assuring them that the fact finding team conducting the investigations will make sure to come up with a comprehensive and factual result,” Coloma added. (OPS)

No pre-termination of job contracts yet, Baldoz says

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on Saturday said there have yet been no pre-termination of employment contracts of their Filipino domestic helpers by Hongkong nationals.

“Except for one case that was reported to us, where her contract was properly terminated and she was paid the benefits due her, we have not received any report from our labor attaches of any pre-termination of employment contracts for any Filipino domestic helpers,” Baldoz stressed in an interview over Radyo ng Bayan.

The Filipina involved has since contacted other recruitment agencies in Hongkong and opted to stay with a relative while waiting to be placed again in another job.

Baldoz said in case of any abrupt pre-termination of contracts or unilateral termination of employment by Hongkong employers, the labor and welfare offices based in Hongkong will be ready to process them and have them returned to the country. 

“To our countrymen in Hongkong, let us just respect the emotions of the Hongkong nationals who are outraged by the hostage-taking and death of their fellow citizens. If we put ourselves in their shoes, we might do the same (stage protests to let off steam),” Baldoz said. (OPS)

President Aquino to lead commemoration of National Heroes Day

President Benigno S. Aquino III will lead the nation and keynote the commemoration of National Heroes Day at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City on Sunday (August 29).

National Heroes Day or Araw ng mga Bayani is celebrated in the Philippines each year on the last Sunday of August to commemorate the beginning of the “Cry of Pugad Lawin,” the Philippine fight for independence from Spain by Filipino revolutionaries led by Andres Bonifacio.

The national celebration usually includes a cultural program and flower offering at the foot of the Unknown Soldier Monument.

Joining the President for the event are: Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Lt. Gen Ricardo David, Jr., National Historical Commission Chairman Ambeth Ocampo, Taguig City Mayor Laarni L. Cayetano and Taguig City Representative Arnel Cerafica.

Upon his arrival, the President will be accorded full military honors by the AFP Ceremonial Troops afterwhich he will proceed to the Tomb of Unknown Soldier Monument to lead the wreath-laying ceremony. (OPS)

Thursday, 26 August 2010

PIA Dispatch - Thursday, August 26, 2010

Government austerity starts with Malacanang household

MALACANANG household under President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino has set the example for austerity, spending only 40% of what the previous tenant at the Palace, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, was spending since he took over.

President Aquino himself revealed the savings of 60% in a press briefing Wednesday last week, August 18, saying the Internal House Affairs Office (IHAO), which handles the upkeep of Malacanang household, had informed him the previous week that its expenses today under the new administration amounted to only 40% of what was spent for the past occupants covering the same period in previous years.

The President made the disclosure when he was asked by a reporter how he was leading by example on government austerity in the light of the move of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to adopt austerity measures to contain the budget deficit this year. The budget deficit is expected to hit P325 this year, up from about P298 billion last year.

Among the austerity measures outlined by the DBM were a freeze on the government purchase of new vehicles and the construction of new buildings, except the building of classrooms.

The government is forced to adopt austerity measures after the new administration of President Aquino found that the government is left with only 10% of the budget to spend for the second half of the year.

Last Friday, President Aquino confirmed government’s move toward austerity even next year by telling an All Leaders’ Forum with volunteer groups during his presidential campaign about a hiring freeze next year in most agencies of the government, except the hiring of teachers by the Department of Education.

The President said DBM Secretary Florencio Abad had advised him against hiring more people in government due to budgetary constraints.

Abad had cited to the President that next year’s national budget has no allocation for salaries if the government hires additional employees.

In line with this move, the government also won’t be hiring many advisers and consultants to keep a lean bureaucracy and save money.

Austerity measures will also be adopted on President Aquino’s travels abroad, including his trip to the United States next month and his visits to Indonesia and Vietnam before that.

President Aquino will be traveling abroad with a small delegation compared with the big groups being brought by President Arroyo when she would travel abroad. (OPS)

Secretary Coloma’s statement clarifying Inquirer story

Presidential Communications Operations Chief Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Thursday clarified an Inquirer online report headline “Palace Exec Doubts Hongkong Chief called Aquino during (Monday’s) Hostage Crisis.”

“The headline is not correct,” Coloma said.

The transcript of the TV interview reads: “Di kapanipaniwala yan dahil accessible siya (President Aquino) sa lahat ng oras, (That is unbelievable as he was accessible at all time),” Coloma said.

“What I meant by ‘di kapanipaniwala iyan’ is the allegation that the President was inaccessible during the hostage crisis,” Coloma explained.

In his TV interview Thursday over “Umagang Kay Ganda,” Coloma noted:

“Kung lumabas man siya ng panandali ay tiyak naming mare-reach din siya dahil dala dala ng kanyang mga aides iyong mga teleponong maaring magamit para makontak siya,” (If he did leave his office, he could still be reached through the mobile phones held by his aides) Coloma said. (OPS)

P-Noy vows justice to those accountable in the hostage-taking incident

President Benigno S. Aquino III vowed that justice will be served to those found accountable for the Luneta Grandstand hostage-taking incident and subsequent botched rescue attempt by security forces last Monday that led to the death of eight Hong Kong nationals.

The Chief Executive made this statement in his speech on Thursday at the ground breaking and time-capsule laying ceremonies for the construction of the Teacher Education and Law Center Building of the Rizal Technological University in Mandaluyong City.

The President, however, said that due process will be maintained and the results of the investigation being conducted by the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation into the case will be the basis for bringing the perpetrators to justice.

“Ginagarantiya ko sa inyo: winawasto na nung gabi pa lang noon yung pagkakamali na nangyari at yan po ay ilalabas natin sa nalalapit na imbestigasyong pangungunahan ng DoJ at ng NBI (I assure you, we started to rectify whatever mistakes had been committed Monday evening, and you will be informed of the outcome of the investigation to be conducted by DOJ and the NBI),” the President said.

“May mga nagkulang, may mga magbabayad (There were shortcomings, but there will be justice),” he declared. (OPS)

Foreign investor confidence in RP remains high – P-Noy

Foreign investor confidence in the Philippines remains at an all-time high despite the bungled rescue attempt of Hong Kong nationals held hostage by a disgruntled former Manila policeman, President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Thursday.

In his speech keynoting the groundbreaking ceremonies for the construction of the Rizal Technological University’s Teacher Education and Law Center Building in Mandaluyong City, President Aquino said officials of a multi-national bank based in the United States have already signified their intent to invest in the country.

The President said his forthcoming trip to the US would solidify the prospective investor’s plans which he said would generate jobs for the Filipino people.

“By the end of September, we will be going to America and upon our return, I believe that we will be bringing gifts for the Filipino people in the form of additional jobs,” the President said.

He said Deutsche Bank officials met with him in Malacañang after the Luneta Grandstand hostage-taking incident to express their collective confidence on the country as an investment venue.

“I met with bank officials in Malacañang a day after the Luneta Grandstand hostage-taking incident and they told me that what we are going through right now is only temporary,” the President said.

“Our confidence in the Philippines is still complete, in fact we plan to increase our exposure here over three times because we believe that the Philippines is on the path to progress,” the President quoted the bank officials as saying.

The President said that with the increase in investments, the country’s economy would also grow and with a growing economy, the search of funding sources to bankroll various infrastructure projects would become easier.

He cited the RTU’s dream of finishing the construction of its Teacher Education and Law Center Building and other buildings of learning would certainly be within reach because funds would be readily available to finish construction of such.

“The building that we are going to build will help nurture talent that we need to generate jobs and opportunities,” the President said.

“If jobs are generated, our economy will expand, while our economy is expanding, the state will have the capability to address the needs of the people,” he added.

In closing, the President called on all Filipinos: “If we help each other, if we focus on our responsibility to others, nothing can impede the growth of the Filipino people.” (OPS)

Warm welcome from two Mandaluyong City schools lift P-Noy’s spirits

President Benigno S. Aquino III said today the warm and rousing welcome accorded him by students and faculty of two schools in Mandaluyong City Thursday morning have lifted his spirits which, he said, had been burdened by the tragic hostage taking incident at the Quirino Grandstand last Monday.

In his speech keynoting the groundbreaking and time-capsule laying ceremonies for the construction of the Teacher Education and Law Center Building of the Rizal Technological University in Mandaluyong City, the Chief Executive described the day as extraordinarily full of promise.

“It’s truly a beautiful day today,” a beaming President Aquino told a throng of teachers and students gathered at the school’s quadrangle for the President’s first visit to the state university.

He intimated that two days before his visit, he found himself asking, “why have I come back to being alone,” referring to his pondering over the tragic incident.

“We’ve felt grief and sorrow recently but here in Mandaluyong today, I feel renewed optimism,” the President said.

“Thank you very much to all,” he added.

Prior to his visit to RTU, President Aquino visited the Isaac Lopez Integrated School in Barangay Vergara to lead groundbreaking and capsule- laying ceremonies signalling the start of the construction of a three- storey, 45 classroom school building. (OPS)

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

PIA Dispatch - Wednesday, August 25, 2010

P-Noy to break ground for two Mandaluyong school buildings

President Benigno S. Aquino III will be the guest of honor at groundbreaking ceremonies for two educational infrastructure projects in Mandaluyong City Thursday, August 26.

The President will lead the rites signalling the start of construction of a two storey, 24 classroom school building at the Isaac Lopez Integrated School in Barangay Vergara, Mandaluyong City at 10 a.m.

To be built at a cost of P50-million from the local government, the school building which covers an effective floor area of 1,140.00 square meters per floor level, will provide an improved and conducive venue for the students of Isaac Lopez Integrated School.

The new school building will be provided with adequate male and female comfort rooms per floor and three emergency exits along its stairwells in keeping with the city’s building code.

The President will then proceed to the nearby Rizal Technological University in Barangay Malamig to lead ground breaking ceremonies for the construction of said school’s Teacher Education and Law Center Building.

The 10-storey building with roof deck will be built at a cost of P100-million also from the local government.

The TELCB, once completed, will have a floor area of 1,093.27 sqm. per floor level and will house various facilities for the school’s Education and Law Center Department, such as: Work Station (I.T.) Rooms, Library, Multi-Media Rooms, Faculty Rooms, Accreditation Rooms, Administrative Offices and Multi-purpose Areas at the roof deck level.

Joining the President are officials from both schools led by Juanita Valle, Isaac Lopez Integrated School Principal Jose Macaballug, officer-in-charge of the Rizal Technological University and Mandaluyong City government officials led by Representative Neptali Gonzales II and Mayor Benhur Abalos.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro and Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson will also be present. (OPS)

HK appreciates RP efforts in hostage aftermath

The Hong Kong government has expressed appreciation for the assistance and swift response provided by the Philippine government in addressing their requests including the repatriation of the remains of the victims in the hostage-taking incident on Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Atty. Edwin Lacierda said the message of appreciation was personally relayed by Guo Shao Chuen of Hong Kong’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo during their meeting on Tuesday night in Manila.

In a press briefing on Wednesday, Lacierda said that Chuen asked Robredo to convey to President Benigno S. Aquino III the Hong Kong government’s appreciation of the swift processing of documents and other requirements of the relatives of victims of the tragic incident.

Lacierda said Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman led the send off for the Hong Kong nationals on Wednesday afternoon.

Lacierda welcomed the magnanimous pronouncement of action star Jackie Chan on his Twitter account saying that incidents like the tragic hostage taking in Manila do happen around the world and that “humans should be united and not kill or hate each other.”

“We thank Mr. Jackie Chan for extending his hand of friendship. We hope that our friends in Hong Kong will also extend their hands of friendship again to us. It is an isolated incident, it is an unfortunate incident. We grieved over the tragedy that had happened. We are not taking this lightly. We thank Mr. Jackie Chan and we hope the people of Hong Kong will also understand our situation,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda said the President has already called for a full investigation of the incident to be led by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and DILG Secretary Robredo.

He said the Philippines will send a high-level delegation to Hong Kong and Beijing to be led by Vice President Jejomar Binay and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo to reiterate the country’s deepest regret and submit an official report on the incident. (OPS)

Gov’t launches nationwide dengue info drive

The government has embarked on a nationwide information campaign in the wake of the rising incidence of dengue cases in the country.

In a news briefing, President Benigno S. Aquino III said the drive is focused on cleanliness particularly in the light of a Department of Health report of a 50 percent increase in the incidence of the killer disease this year.

“During our meeting on Monday, Dr. Enrique Ona (DOH Secretary) mentioned there was a 50 percent increase in the incidence of dengue cases. He is now going around for an education campaign dealing with the cleanliness drive,” the President said.

The President said the educational drive involves public awareness and participation in cleaning the common breeding grounds of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes such as unattended old tires, empty cans and bottles, gutters and the like.

“We would rather have the prevention rather than the curing aspect of it. There was also a study being done whether or not there is an effect already of the global climate change that has increased the population of this dengue-bearing mosquitoes,” the President said.

The DOH earlier attributed the increase in dengue cases to the El Niño phenomenon.

From January to July this year alone, the DOH reported 40,648 cases with a total of 328 deaths.

Most of the dengue cases were reported in Central Mindanao, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon (Calabarzon) area, Southern Mindanao, Northern Mindanao and Metro Manila.

At present, the DOH is intensifying its dengue fever awareness and prevention program in schools and communities nationwide and advising the public to be aware of the flu-like symptoms of the disease like prolonged fever and rashes. (OPS)

SK, Barangay polls to proceed as scheduled

The Sangguniang Kabataan and Barangay elections will go on as scheduled, after all.

This, after Congress has acceded to President Benigno S. Aquino’s request to pursue the conduct of the said polls in October this year.

President Aquino announced the development in a news briefing with Malacanang reporters Wednesday.

The confirmation came after the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms on Wednesday had dismissed and ‘archived’ all bills and resolutions of the minority bloc to suspend the Barangay and SK polls.

“I appealed to members of the ruling coalition in both chambers to support us in our drive to continue with what has already been scheduled by the pertinent law and that is the conduct of Barangay and SK elections by October of this year. And that was again a primary appeal that they have acceded to,” the President said.

During his meeting with members of Congress, the President explained that ‘a renewal of mandate’ and the conduct of Barangay and SK elections this coming October is necessary in governance as being ‘the primary instrumentality in carrying out any and all programs of the state.’

He stressed that “without the renewed mandate the support of the populace essential in attaining success of this objectives will be severely put to the test.” (OPS)


Aquino sending high level delegation to China

President Benigno Aquino III has designated a high level delegation to the People’s Republic of China to officially explain what transpired during Monday’s hostage taking incident which resulted in the death of eight Hongkong nationals.

The delegation is composed of Vice-President Jejomar Binay, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda and foreign affairs secretary Alberto Romulo.

In a press briefing Wednesday in Malacanang, the President said the delegation is making the necessary arrangements with the Chinese embassy and will proceed to Beijing to officially send a report to President Hu Jintao.

The delegation according to the President, will then proceed to Hong Kong to have a dialogue with the Chief Executive of the Special Administrative Region, Donald Tsang.

In a phone conversation with Tsang Tuesday, the President explained the chronology of events that transpired during the bloody incident.

The President said he understands the anger of the people of Hong Kong because of the incident and asked for their understanding.

He assured that the government is already correcting the deficiencies in the implementation of operating procedures during the hostage taking.

“None of us wanted this outcome and we’d like to emphasize the fact that the primary consideration was to secure all of the hostages” the President said. (OPS)

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

PIA Dispatch - Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hostage-taking is just one of the trials we must face, PNoy says

Saddened by the unfortunate hostage-taking that led to the deaths of Hongkong nationals who were on their way to the Manila Ocean Park, President Benigno S. Aquino III reminded the people that “this is just one trials that we must face and we must not give up.”

The President, who monitored the 11-hour hostage drama that ended at 9 p.m., said on Monday in a midnight conference the government will institute measures to increase the sense of well-being and security of the people and provide funds necessary to support the training and acquisition more effective of equipment for police authorities.

“Let us not forget that this pales in comparison to the terrorism that took place in Germany 1972 where almost all of the Israeli team taken hostage were wiped out,” the President stressed.

“To this day, nobody can tell you that there is a guarantee for success in the field of anti terrorism and hostage rescues. That is (simply) not the case,” he said.

As to whether he would require higher officials to lead negotiations in hostage-taking situations, the President said “that would lead to an increase in demands by the hostage takers if there was a higher official (present) that could grant him theoretically (with) more privileges and more concessions.”

The President was reacting to the incident where heavily-armed Police Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza held hostage a tourist bus with around 20 tourists from Hongkong at the Quirino Grandstand. Mendoza earlier demanded for his reinstatement in the police force.

As to whether he would require higher officials to be lead negotiators in hostage-taking situations, the President said “that it may lead to an increase in demands by the hostage takers if there was a higher official (present) that could grant him theoretically (with) more privileges and more concessions.”

The President said the government expects more of the facts of this incident to come to light as he ordered Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to thoroughly lead the review of this incident. (OPS)

Aquino condoles with families of slain Hongkong tourists

President Benigno S. Aquino III last night apologized and condoled with the families of the slain tourists from Hongkong, who were held hostage at the Quirino Grandstand by a dismissed Manila police captain Monday morning. The hostage taker released nine, allowed the driver to escape and then fired at one of the negotiators. Shots were later heard inside the sealed bus.

“With the rest of the Filipino people, I wish to offer our deepest condolences to the families of the victims whose lives were lost in the hostage situation at the Quirino Grandstand,” the President said in his opening statement in a press conference at midnight on Tuesday in the Palace. After the press conference, the President went to the crime scene and inspected the heavily-damaged bus at the Rizal Park.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo “has conveyed our deep feelings of sorrow to the Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China and the people of Hongkong through the Hongkong Chief Executive Donald Tsang,” the Chief Executive said.

He said he has tasked Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman and Tourism Secretary Albert Lim to provide everything necessary for the recovery and (safe) return home of the survivors.

The President said he also directed police officials to give their fullest cooperation with Hongkong authorities in the investigation of this incident.

“We expect more of the facts to come to light and I have ordered Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to thoroughly lead the review,” the President said, adding the incident added to his problems, one of which is to generate jobs through tourism “where we intended to double the tourism figures from 3 million visitors to 6 million.”

Similarly, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Chief Ramon “Ricky” Carandang told a news briefing Tuesday afternoon that the Department of Foreign Affairs is now briefing the Diplomatic Corps to reassure them, along with the international community that government continues to protect the safety of its visitors and that this is one unfortunate incident,” Carandang said.

Carandang said such briefings will mitigate the possible negative effect on tourism of what happened so the foreign community will “have more of an understanding and perhaps be kinder when they issue travel advisories.”

He said President Aquino’s meeting on Tuesday with the Chinese Ambassador will tackle specific measures to protect Chinese citizens in the country.

On the travel advisories issued by six countries, Carandang said, “we will meet with the Ambassadors of these countries to explain to them what happened and the steps being taken to prevent similar incidents from happening again.” (OPS)

Coloma graces launch of Xiamen Satellite TV

Presidential Communications Group Secretary Sonny Coloma graced Monday night the launch of Xiamen Satellite television (TV) at the Century Park Hotel, where he cited the deepening cultural relations between China and the Philippines.

Coloma delivered a short speech during the launch where he said President Benigno S. Aquino III cares so much for Filipino Chinese relations.

Xiamen, he noted, is China’s first open economic zone. “With its rapid economic development and beautiful environment, Xiamen is now a famous tourist city,” Coloma said.

The signing of ASEAN Compact 10 plus 1 recently further strengthened Philippines and China relations. Xiamen and Manila are very much similar, while Xiamen and Cebu have long been adopted sister cities.

“I believe that through Xiamen TV, the exchange of television programs between the Philippines and China could be done more smoothly and their outstanding traditional cultures would reach the hearts and homes of every Filipino televiewers and vice versa,” Coloma said.

The launch was attended by Federation of Filipino Association of the Philippines chairman Peter Ty, Xiamen Media Group president Zhou Min, Xiamen Public Affairs Undersecretary Hong Bi Ling and Cultural Counsellor Chen Yongshan. (OPS)

Aquino declares Aug. 25 day of mourning

President Benigno S. Aquino III issued Proclamation 23, declaring Aug. 25, 2010 as a national day of mourning, following the hostage-taking Monday by a dismissed police captain of over 20 tourists from Hongkong.

The Hongkong government declared a day of mourning earlier to express its sorrow over the deaths of its nationals.

“These deaths are a great loss to the peoples of Hongkong and the Philippines and calls for the most solemn commemoration and respect of a time of grief for our two peoples,” the President said.

The President ordered the flying of Philippine flags at half mast by all public institutions and embassies and consulates overseas on Aug. 25, 2010.

On Tuesday, a mass was held at the Luneta along with masses held at EDSA Shrine, Cebu and Davao.

The President also met with Chinese Ambassador Liu Jianchao and they were both briefed by Manila Police District Chief Gen. Rodolfo Magtibay and other police officers of what really transpired

Lacierda said in a press briefing in Malacanang Tuesday, that the President committed to Ambassador Jianchao the government’s assistance to the victims and their relatives, including the repatriation of their bodies not late than Wednesday.

According to Lacierda, the President also spoke over the phone with Hongkong Chief Executive Donald Tsang and reiterated the sympathy of the Filipino people to the families and relatives of the victims in the hostage incident.

“We continue to observe our sorrow with them. The next thing is for us to go on with the investigation to determine what really happened.” Lacierda said. (OPS)

Monday, 23 August 2010

PIA Dispatch - Monday, August 23, 2010

Statement of the President on the hostage-taking incident at the Quirino Grandstand

With the rest of the Filipino people, I wish to offer our deepest condolences to the families of the victims whose lives were lost in the hostage situation at the Quirino Grandstand. The Secretary of Foreign Affairs has conveyed our deep feelings of sorrow to the Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China and the people of Hong Kong through Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang. I have tasked Secretaries Soliman and Lim to provide everything necessary for the recovery and return home of the survivors. I have directed the fullest cooperation with the Hong Kong authorities on the part of our officials.

From the onset of this incident, the hostage-taker seemed to not be belligerent, as shown by the release of hostages. These were encouraging signs.

We were going to wait him out. The idea was to let the ground commanders who are the experts in this field handle the operation with minimal interference from people who are less expert.

But the situation deteriorated rapidly when, during the course of the negotiations, he was given the letter of the Ombudsman in which she promised to personally review his case. As he was reading the contents of the letter, while talking to an unknown individual on the phone, he became increasingly agitated.

The presence of his brother also added to the tension.

At this point, he threatened to kill a hostage. The police decided to remove the brother from the scene. As the negotiators were departing, the negotiators were shot at.

Media coverage of his brother being taken into custody further agitated the hostage-taker.

Shots were fired. They seemed to be warning shots, as there was no audible indication of tumult or chaos to show that the hostages were in immediate danger.

Nonetheless, the negotiators tried to reestablish contact with the hostage-taker but they were unsuccessful as the cellphone of the hostage-taker was continuously busy. He also refused to answer the throw-phone provided for him by the authorities.

The escape of the driver, combined with his reports that the hostages were being harmed, forced the assault to happen. When the vehicle began to move, and with reports that he had hand grenades, a decision was made to immobilize the vehicle as it would have made the situation even more dangerous.

As we know, the incident tragically ended in the deaths of eight innocent civilians.

We expect more of the facts to come to light and I have ordered Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to thoroughly lead this review. (OP)

Malacañang to conduct study of OP intelligence fund

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will conduct a thorough study on whether or not the Office of the President (OP) will return to the practice of having no intelligence funds.

“We will make a proper review of the intelligence funds. And after the review, then we will be able to make more appropriate decisions on the matter,” Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma said in a press briefing at Malacanang on Monday amid calls from Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile for the OP to give up its intelligence funds .

Coloma stressed that it is the principle of President Benigno S. Aquino III not to tolerate any wasteful use of government funds.

He said the present administration will have to review the current use of these funds and will decide whether or not its use by the OP is still valid.

Coloma explained that this practice was inherited from previous administrations when the use of these funds were made highly confidential.

The OP never had an allocation for an intelligence fund until former President Joseph Estrada formed the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF). In 2001, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo abolished the (OPS)

Palace to honor court's order to cancel passports of Lacson

Malacanang says it will honor the order of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 18 to cancel the diplomatic and regular passports of fugitive Senator Panfilo Lacson to bring him back to the country.

“What we are saying is that we are honoring these legal processes, we are honoring the order of the court. And so, if there are certain departments like the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Justice that are following this order then we stand by their act to follow the court order,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma said during a press briefing at Malacanang on Monday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs canceled the diplomatic and regular passports of Lacson on Saturday. The Senator fled the country on Jan. 5 following an arrest order made by the Manila RTC Branch 18.

Coloma likewise said that Malacanang has no authority to decide on the proposal to cancel the salary of Lacson because the matter is now in the hands of the legislative department.

“That matter is included in the principle of the separation of power between the executive, judiciary and legislative,” Coloma said.

At the same time, Coloma advised the son of Senator Lacson to direct his appeal for the cancellation of the warrant of arrest for his father to the Manila RTC and not to President Benigno S. Aquino III because the executive branch has nothing to do with it.

Senator Lacson has been the subject of manhunt operations after the Manila RTC issued an arrest warrant for the lawmaker in connection with his involvement in the November 2000 murder of public relations man Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and his driver Emmanuel Corbito.

Coloma assured the public that law enforcement agencies are doing its best to trace the whereabouts of Senator Lacson and to bring him to court immediately upon his arrest. (OPS)

President Aquino swears in more government officials

President Benigno S. Aquino III personally administered the oaths of office to 36 new government officials in simple ceremonies held at Malacañang Palace’s Rizal Hall on Monday.

They are:

Herminio B. Coloma, Jr., Head, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO); Dr. Patricia B. Licuanan, Chairperson, Commission on Higher Education; Daniel L. Lacson, Jr., Chairman, Government Service Insurance System; Karina Constantino David, Member, GSIS Board of Trustees;

Emilio S. de Quiros, Jr., president and CEO, Social Security System; Juan B. Santos, Chairman, SSS; Diane Pardo Aguilar, Commissioner, SSS; Francisco D. del Rosario, Jr., president and CEO, Development Bank of the Philippines; Jose A. Nunez, Chairman, DBP; Antonio Jose U. Periquet, Member, DBP and Juan Kevin G. Belmonte, Member, DBP;

The other officials were:

For the Department of Agrarian Reform: Antonio N. Parungao and Jerry E. Pacturan, Undersecretaries; Maria Theresa I. Martinez, Herminia Fe B. San Juan, and Mary Frances Pesayco Aquino, Assistant Secretaries;

For the Department of Justice: Jacqueline B. Veloria Mejia and Geronimo L. Sy, Assistant Secretaries;

For the Department of Tourism: Maria Victoria V. Jasmin and Domingo Ramon C. Enerio, Assistant Secretaries;

For the PCOO: Elizardo de Layola and Renato M. Marfil, Assistant Secretaries;

Regina Paz L. Lopez, Chairperson, Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission; Peter N. Tiangco, Administrator, National Mapping and Resource Information, Department of Environment and Natural Resources; Felizardo Serapio, Jr., Executive Director, Philippine Center for Transnational Crime;

Ma. Regina B. Martin, Administrator, Sugar Regulatory Administration; Gen. Rex Derequito Piad, Special Envoy for Transnational Crime; Chito Cruz, National Housing Authority; Geraldine Go Bernardo, Executive Director, Philippine Sports Commission; Jose Luis Reyes Gomez, Commissioner, PSC;

Teofilo C. Abejo II, Member, Toll Regulatory Board; Manuel E. Dimaculangan, Member, Board of Directors, Manila Economic and Cultural Office; Jaime C. Laya, Board of Trustees, Cultural Center of the Philippines; Maria Cristina V. Turalba, Board of Trustees, CCP; and Abraham Kahlil B. Mitra, Chairman, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development.

The President also administered the oaths of office to 15 newly-elected mayors comprising the League of Municipalities of the Philippines in the province of Leyte. (OPS)

Malacañang acknowledges ADB's advice for Aquino gov't to expand the middle class

The Aquino Administration will focus its economic development program on building and expanding the country’s middle class.

“The reality is that we have not expanded our middle class considerably. And, this doesn’t compare favorably with the records of our neighboring countries in Asia,” Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma said.

The Asian Development Bank has advised that economic development in the Philippines must aim at expanding the middle class so it can achieve sustainable economic growth.

According to Coloma, it is the government’s thrust to expand opportunities for our people to improve their lives.

He noted that poverty reduction programs for the past years were focused mainly on helping the poor rather than on building a strong middle class.

He stressed that reforming the educational system, creating more high-paying jobs and enhancing healthcare services remain the top three priorities of the Aquino Administration. (OPS)