Monday, 29 November 2010

PIA Dispatch - Sunday, November 28, 2010

Aquino and sisters commemorate Ninoy's birthday solemnly

President Benigno S. Aquino III, together with his sisters, commemorated the 78th birthday of their late father, Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., quietly and solemnly on Saturday at the Manila Memorial Park in Paranaque City.

Shortly after his arrival, the President’s sisters Ballsy, Pinky and Viel joined him in attending Holy Mass which was officiated by Fr. Vicente Jose Vera, chaplain of the Armed forces of the Philippines which was held beside the tombs of the former senator and his wife former President Corazon C. Aquino.

The First Couple, Ninoy and Cory are considered democracy icons after fighting the dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970’s.

As Senator, Ninoy was a staunch defender of human rights and became a top critic of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. He was imprisoned during the Martial Law.

On August 21, 1983, Ninoy was assassinated at the Manila International Airport (later renamed in his honor) upon returning home from exile in the United States.

His death catapulted his widow, Cory, to the presidency, replacing the 20-year Marcos dictatorship.(PCOO)

PIA Dispatch - Saturday, November 27, 2010

Maximum tolerance to be observed in rallies, says Malacanang

Anticipating a big student rally on Mendiola come December 1, Malacañang said maximum tolerance will be strictly followed as the students have every right to voice out their protests.

At the same time, the Palace reiterated its order to the heads of the state universities and colleges (SUCs) to explain to the students that aside from the budgets they are getting under the 2011 General Appropriations Act, the SUCs have other sources of income to finance their operational requirements for next year. These incomes are tuition and other fees collected by the schools.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview by Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday that the rally that took place in Baguio, when President Aquino attended the opening of the 700th store of Jollibee Foods Corporation.

The Department of Budget and Management have explained that the 2011 budget for SUCs in fact is higher than last year. The 2011 budget is P23.4 billion for SUCs, higher by P2 billion over 2010’s budget, the President explained earlier in Baguio City.

The entire education budget, which includes basic education, rose by 12.92 percent or to P271.67 billion from P240.58 billion in 2010.

“Some complain that the budget should have been higher. Some say we do not give value to education. My answer is this: do not forget that the tertiary level is not the only thing we should give attention to when it comes to education,” the President pointed out.

.“We are merely focusing on who needs help the most. Basic education should be free for all, that is why we had a huge increase for the budget of the Department of Education. Through this, we can give children the opportunity to go to school,” he added.

The President said the budget for the University of the Philippines went down from P6.9 billion in 2010 to the proposed P5.5 billion for 2011 because it has other means to source funds such as from the UP-Ayala Technohub, students’ tuition fees and state subsidies. (PCOO)

PIA Dispatch - Friday, November 26, 2010

New Aquino defense policy to provide direction for PH

In line with President Benigno S. Aquino III’s efforts to ensure the country’s peace and stability, the Department of National Defense (DND) will sustain efforts to strengthen its institutional capacity to effectively carry out its role in addressing internal security, disaster management and response; humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping; international defense and security cooperation; and support to national development.

The DND recently came out with its defense policy paper entitled, “The Department of National Defense: Meeting the Challenges to Philippines Defense and Security,” which will provide the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the civilian bureaus of the DND the direction on which to anchor their programs.

At the same time, the policy paper aims to communicate to the public the various thrusts of the department; how the DND intends to engage in regional and global affairs, and utilize their resources in a judicious and accountable manner.

Under its major policy thrusts, the DND said it needs to further enhance the capability of the AFP; modernize the government arsenal; strengthen the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD); further develop the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP); utilize the reserve force to complement the AFP and OCD particularly in relief and rescue operation; ensure the welfare of veterans; and work closely with local government units (LGUs) and cultivate partnership with the private sector.

Aside from its policy thrusts, the DND will also actively engage with the regional and global defense establishments to further develop its capability, pursue greater cooperation with regional states and other strategic partners, contribute to the strengthening of regional and global institutions, and address terrorism and other transnational security challenges.

Defense budget proposals under the DND-issued Defense Planning Guidance will also provide a rational and coherent framework for defense spending through a judicious and optimal allocation of resources for priority areas such as maintenance, training and operations.

Last Oct. 12, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin presented the DND defense policy paper during the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) Plus held in Hanoi, Vietnam where Defense Ministers shared their views on pressing regional security concerns and discussed the direction of future practical cooperation.

The ADMM-Plus summit was held to enhance cooperation between ASEAN and its eight dialogue partners -- Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the United States -- in the areas of maritime security, terrorism, peacekeeping operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and military medicine.

“Through this Defense Policy Paper, the DND hopes to contribute in building confidence and trust among countries in the region. Most importantly, it could contribute in cultivating partnership with other stakeholders in the Philippines. After all, the security and defense of the Philippines is not simply a concern of the Department of National Defense but of the entire Filipino nation,” Gazmin said. (PCOO)

Why PCSO must be with office of the President

The urgency of reverting the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office back to the Office of the President, where it was meant to be under the charter creating it, is because of the nature and scope of the numerous health assistance and social services, charities and local governments that PCSO must fund from its revenue generating activities.

In an interview, PCSO Chairman Margarita Juico said for many years since the PCSO was created in 1954, it had always been under the Office of the President, until the Arroyo administration transferred it from the OP to the Department of Health then to the Department of Social Welfare and Development and then back to the DOH.

“For what reason the agency was being moved from one department to another, I could never understand,” Juico said on Thursday.

PCSO has two vital functions namely: a) to raise funds through the regular Sunday Sweepstakes draws and the daily lotteries such as 6/42, 6/45, 6/49 and 6/55 aside from the three digit daily lottos and b) to allocate resources for social services and charities of national character.

Juico said the PCSO’s resource allocation is covered by two sets of laws: 10 Republic Acts and four executive orders.

Recipients under the RAs are the Philippine Sports Commission Program (for six sweepstakes draws); Commission on Higher Education; documentary stamp tax (10% of gross sales); National Shelter Program (10% of charity fund); the Shared Government Information System on Migration under the Department of Foreign Affairs (P10 million) and P150 million of lotto draws from the Charity Fund for the Congressional Migrant Workers Scholarship Fund; crop insurance program (10% of net income); P100 million from lotto agents for the upgrading of the Quirino Memorial Medical Center; P50 million for the indigenous peoples for the ancestral domain fund; P250 million from annual net earnings from lotto for the Museum Endowment Fund and Dangerous Drugs Board (10% of forfeited or unclaimed prizes after one year).

Recipients under the EOs are: P1 billion standby fund for the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS); P250 million standby fund for avian influenza or bird flu and 5% lotto share of local government unit.

Juico, meanwhile, said it would be unfair to put a cap to the prize winnings in lotteries as the money belong to the bettors and no one can just limit what they ought to get. She was reacting to a proposed measure by Rep. Ben Evardone of Samar.

Juico said the winners normally get a lump sum check of the Land Bank of the Philippines, which they must withdraw at the right branch. “It is up to the winner if she/he decides to keep part or most of the winnings with the bank or allow the bank to invest it in high yielding instruments and even trust funds,” Juico said. (PCOO)

P-Noy leads 700th store opening of local food chain in Baguio City

BAGUIO CITY: President Benigno Simeon Aquino III underscored Friday the Filipino resiliency and perseverance that allow him compete with others and be a success in any field of endeavor.

In his speech at the opening of Jollibee’s 700th store on Harrison Road, here, the President noted Jollibee’s exemplary showing founded on determination despite hardships and competition from other food chains in the country and abroad.

“Pinakita ng Jollibee na kaya niyang makipagsabayan sa mga banyaga at kaya niyang higitan ang mga ito. Ito ang marka ng Pinoy, hindi nagpapatinag, matatag at mapag-punyagi”, the President said.

The Chief Executive also noted Jollibee’s unwavering support to the Filipino people by providing jobs and giving them chance to maximize their potentials.

“Ang katangi-tangi sa Jollibee ay ang hindi matatawarang pag-bandila sa kakayahan ng mga Pilipino, wala na pong mas hihigit pang tagumpay dito”, he said.

“Bawat branch ng Jollibee ay sumasagisag sa kakayahan ng negosyanteng Pilipino na maging bukod tangi sa anumang larangan na kanyang papasukin. Ang mga nalikha niyang trabaho ang siyang nagbibigay lakas sa ating mga kababayan na umahon mula sa kahirapan,” the Chief Executive added.

Upon his arrival, the President was welcomed by local officials led by Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan, Congressman Bernardo Vergara and Jollibee Food Corporation (JFC) officials Tony Tan Caktiong, chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Ernesto Tan Mantiong, president and Jose Minana Jr. president of Jollibee Philippines.

A memento of Jollibee’s newest store was given to the President with a token presented by Grace Tan Caktiong, president of Jollibee Foundation representing JFC’s commitment in helping the government to meet the Millenium Development Goals (MDG), particularly in mitigating hunger and poverty.

One of the biggest business establishments in the country, Jollibee Foods Corp. operates the largest quick service restaurant chains with a system wide sales of P68.7 billion and net income of P2.7 billion last year.

JFC operates eight food chains, five locally, which include Jollibee, Chowking, Greenwich Pizza, Red Ribbon Bakeshop, Manong Pepe and Mang Inasal. The other two are in China, namely Yonghe King and Hong Zhuang Yuan. (PCOO)

Palace confident peace talks with reds, MILF to push thru

Malacañang is confident that the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) will resume before the end of this year.

In a media briefing in Malacanang on Friday, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Deles has bared “that there is a planned meeting this December with the MILF and NDF.”

A month ago, President Benigno S. Aquino III reconstituted the government panel led by human rights lawyer Alexander Padilla for the resumption of talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

To finally put an end to the 41-year-old insurgency, the President directed the panel to pursue time-bound and agenda-bound peace negotiations with the communist rebels anchored on the principles of peace, justice and human rights.

Lacierda said peace talks with the MILF will also resume once stakeholders settle on the Philippine request for a new facilitator on the talks.

“With respect to the peace process with the MILF, we are prepared to sit down with them. The only problem is the issue on facilitator. So that is the problem that we are trying to address right now between us, the MILF and Malaysia,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda said a World Bank study estimated that some $2 billion to $3 billion worth of investment opportunities were lost between 1979 and 2000 as a result of the conflict in some provinces of Mindanao. (PCOO)

Aquino defends budget cut for state universities

BAGUIO CITY: The government is not taking education for granted. Nor it is neglecting the needs of students in state universities and colleges (SUCs).

This, President Benigno S. Aquino III emphasized Friday in answer to allegations by student protesters here that state colleges and universities are being left out due to cuts in next year’s budget.

Aquino, who is here as guest in the opening of the 700th store of local fast food chain Jollibee pointed out in an ambush interview that the proposed P23.4-billion budget for SUCs for 2011 is even higher than the P21 billion the previous administration proposed for the year 2010.

Some complain that the budget should have been higher. Some say we do not give value to education. My answer is this: do not forget that the tertiary level is not the only thing we should give attention to when it comes to education,” he said.

The Chief Executive said the proposed overall 2011 budget for education – including the budget for basic education that includes elementary and high school – rose by 12.92 percent, or to P271.67 billion from the P240.58 billion allotted for this year.

“We are merely focusing on who needs help the most. Basic education should be free for all, that is why we had a huge increase for the budget of the Department of Education. Through this, we can give children the opportunity to go to school,” he said.

The President said the budget for the University of the Philippines went down from P6.9 billion in 2010 to the proposed P5.5 billion for 2011 because it has other means to source funds such as from the UP-Ayala Technohub, students’ tuition fees and state subsidies.

In a related development, Malacanang on Friday advised students holding protest actions against the cut in government spending for state universities and colleges (SUCs) to talk to their respective university officials.

We have emphasized that in the past, the income of SUCs were reverted back to the national treasury. But it is not being done now. In fact, we allow SUCs to retain their own income,”

The President, in his budget message said: “We are gradually reducing the subsidy to SUCs to push them toward becoming self-sufficient and financially independent, given their ability to raise their income and to utilize it for their programs and projects.” (PCOO)

President wants quiet, private commemoration of Ninoy’s birth

BAGUIO CITY: President Benigno Simeon Aquino III will be hearing mass with his family on Saturday at the Manila Memorial Park in Paranaque City where both his parents lie to commemorate the 78th birth anniversary of his father, the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.

After his speaking engagement at the opening ceremonies of Jollibee’s 700th store on Harrison Road, here, the President said he intends to remember his father privately to have quality time with his family and relatives.

“We have a mass, but we’d like to keep it private as usual, dun lang kami nagkita-kitang lahat…it’s the 78th birthday of my dad”, the President said.

President Aquino also said that the commemoration of Ninoy’s birth anniversary will give them ample time to reflect.

“It’s quiet, we will be able to reflect…maaalala mo yung pinagdaanan para maituro nila sa iyo yung dapat patunguhan”, he added.

The late Senator Aquino was born in Tarlac from a highly respected family that had long been involved in politics. His paternal grandfather, General Servillano Aquino, was a famed revolutionary who fought the Spaniards and then the Americans at the turn of the century. His father, Benigno Aquino Sr. was a House Speaker and then a senator.

At a very young age, Ninoy became mayor of his hometown Concepcion, then Governor of Tarlac, then Senator of the Republic.

As Senator, he was a staunch defender of human rights and became a top critic of the Marcos administration. He was imprisoned during Martial Law. In 1980, Ninoy was allowed to fly to the United States along with his family to seek medical treatment for his heart ailment. He spent three years in the U.S.

Despite advice from friends not to return, he decided to come home after learning of the deteriorating political situation in the Philippines.

He was shot dead on Aug. 21, 1983 at the tarmac of the then Manila International Airport. The airport has since been named after him. (PCOO)

PH condemns NoKor attack on South

The Philippines has joined other nations in condemning North Korea’s artillery attack on South Korea’s Yeonpyeong island, urging the two nations to resolve their difficulties in a peaceful manner.

In a statement read by Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Atty. Abigail Valte during a media briefing this afternoon, she stated that “the Philippine government is gravely concerned over the resulting rise in tensions in the Korean Peninsula and the recent attack by North Korea constitutes a clear and flagrant violation of international law.”

The statement came out two days after President Benigno S. Aquino III urged the two countries to end provocative actions and called for sobriety following their exchange of artillery attacks last Wednesday.

Valte said the assault would adversely affect peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and the Pacific region.

“The Philippines commends the Republic of Korea for having demonstrated extraordinary restraint in the wake of the attack on the corvette ROKS Cheonan on 26 March this year, and again in the wake of this unprovoked and overt attack. We call for the continued exercise of restraint,” the statement said.

“The Philippines strongly urges the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abide by its obligations under international law and the UN Charter, and to adhere to the Armistice Agreement of 1953, the Inter-Korean Basic Agreement of 1991, and the Declaration on the Advancement of South-North Korean Relations, Peace and Prosperity of October 4, 2007,” it added.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda meantime reassured relatives and families of the overseas Filipino workers in South Korea that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Philippine Embassy in Seoul are closely monitoring the situation.

He said the President had already directed Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and Philippine Ambassador to Seoul Luis Cruz to review the existing contingency plan to test its current validity.

“We have to prepare for any eventuality,” Lacierda said adding that the President also tapped Special Envoy retired general Roy Cimatu to facilitate the evacuation process of some 50,000 Filipino nationals in Korea in case the situation worsen.

Lacierda divulged that the President had ordered the Philippine Embassy in Seoul to start constant communication with the leaders of some 15,000 Filipinos residing in the northern part of Korea and coordinate with key agencies such as DFA, DND, DOLE, DSWD and DOTC to ensure the safety of Filipinos in South Korea and the DPRK.

“The Philippines calls for peace and seeks an end to the instability in the region,” Lacierda said. (PCOO)

PIA Dispatch - Thursday, November 25, 2010

Palace issues new amnesty proclamation

President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday signed Proclamation No. 75 granting amnesty to active and former officers and enlisted personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and their supporters involved in the three attempts to overthrow his predecessor.

The new amnesty proclamation takes effect upon the concurrence of the majority of all members of Congress. It also supersedes Proclamation No. 50, which was issued on October 11, 2010.

Proclamation No. 75 covers crimes punishable under the Revised Penal Code, the Articles of War and other laws in connection with the July 2003 Oakwood mutiny, the February 2006 Marine stand-off and the November 2007 Peninsula Manila hotel incident.

The amnesty, however, does not cover “rape, acts of torture, crimes against chastity, and other crimes committed for personal ends.”

Personnel of the AFP and the PNP and their supporters may apply for the amnesty with the Department of National Defense (DND) within 90 days after the publication of the proclamation in newspapers of general circulation.

Enlisted personnel of the AFP with the rank of technical sergeant and below and PNP personnel with the rank of senior police officer 3 (SP03) and below whose amnesty application will be approved are entitled to reinstatement or reintegration.

Under the proclamation, however, they are “not entitled to back pay during the time they have been discharged or suspended from the service or unable to perform their military or police duties.”

Master sergeants and all commissioned officers of the AFP and all PNP officers with the rank of SP04 and above are not entitled to reinstatement or reintegration and back pay.

All AFP and PNP personnel who will be granted amnesty but will not be reinstated or reintegrated will be entitled to retirement and separation benefits if they qualify under existing laws and regulations at the time of their separation, unless such benefits are forfeited for reasons other than acts covered by the proclamation.

The new amnesty proclamation includes revisions based on input from legislators involved in congressional hearings on Proclamation No. 50. (PCOO)

New bank notes with Aquino’s signature presented at Palace

The Philippine peso will have a new face in time for the celebration of Christmas next month.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) will be launching a new redesigned batch of bank notes in December that will feature an upgraded design and security features.

This was disclosed by Ms. Fe M. dela Cruz, BSP’s Corporate Affairs Office, on Thursday, during the presentation of bank notes bearing the signature of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III at the Presidential Guest House in Malacañang.

Dela Cruz said that the newest batch of notes to be launched include the 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 peso bills, all of which will have the newest design and a much stricter security features.

Dela Cruz did not give specific details but assured that the BSP has been working hard on the newest batch of notes adding that it will be appreciated by the public.

“The security features are more difficult and will be more costly for counterfeiters to copy pero mas madali po sa public na ma-identify kung alin ang counterfeit at alin yung genuine”, Dela Cruz said.

She urged the public to take care of the bank notes for it represents the Filipino culture and core values.

“Let us not crumple, wet, or deface our peso bills. We should always be careful in handling our legal tender,” said Dela Cruz, stressing that the peso bills represent the nation, and its people, as well as what we take pride of as Filipinos.

Dela Cruz clarified that only the design and security features will be upgraded, the color of the bank notes to be launched will be retained to allay confusion from the public.

She added that the peso bills with the old design and features remain legal tender until it will be phased out in three to four years time.

During the event, the BSP presented to the President a complete set of Philippine peso bills with his signature but with the same design and features. The said batch of notes will be in circulation starting tomorrow.

The BSP has been printing bank notes with the signature of President Aquino since he assumed office in June. At least two billion pieces of bank notes, of all denominations, are being printed every year. (PCOO)

PCSO transfer to OP has Ona, Juico imprimatur

The immediate transfer of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office to the Office of the President sits well with both Health Secretary Enrique Ona and PCSO Chairman Margarita Juico, who actually recommended the move four months ago.

In a phone interview, Ona said he suggested the transfer because the Department of Health is not the right agency to raise funds through lotteries being undertaken by the PCSO.

“But in the allocation of funds that is where we must be consulted,” Ona said.

Juico, for her part, said she asked the help of the Office of the Executive Secretary and the OP legal advisers to review the PCSO legal mandate. They revisited the charter and found out that it would be better returned with the Office of the President,” she said.

President Benigno S. Aquino III has since taken back control of the agency tasked with raising and providing funds for health programs, medical assistance and services and charities of national character.

More known for the traditional Sunday Sweepstakes raffle and the daily lottery, which of late has grown to a pot of P600 million for the 6/55 super lotto, the PCSO has become a source of hope for most Filipinos, regardless of class, gender and age, for their financial upliftment.

In issuing Executive Order No. 14, the President said the PCSO, which was created by Republic Act 1169 was originally under the OP.

Then EO No. 38u3 of Nov. 8, 2004 transferred the PCSO to the Department of Social Welfare and was again transferred to the Department of Health by virtue of EO 455 of Aug. 22, 2005.

The President cited Section 31 of the Administrative Code of 1987 as his justification for transferring agencies to the OP from other departments and agencies.

“One of the main objectives of the OP is to enhance the health services and charity programs to the public as well as to immediately respond to calamities, disaster relief and emerging illnesses,” the President said.

To ensure the effective implementation of the social agenda of the President and to effectively facilitate the health services and charity programs of OP there is need to return PCSO to the Office of the President, the EO said. (PCOO)

Growth path hinges on 3 fundamentals identified by Aquino

The government’s economic team is basing future growth targets on three fundamentals identified by President Benigno S. Aquino III.

In a press briefing after the launch of the new P500 notes at the Premier Guest House of Malacanang, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the three fundamentals include getting rid of corruption, improving the bureaucracy and infrastructure development.

Purisima said the team will let the private sector do its part under the private public partnership (PPP) because “we believe that if we give the private sector a predictable environment, level playing field and transparent way of doing things we will be able to gain the private sector’s confidence so they can make more investment.”

The President recently launched 10 infrastructure projects to be covered by the PPP where the private sector can invest.

Purisima said growth can happen based on the ability to really get people to invest. “In the past the 45 straight quarters of growth was made mainly on consumption and has been basically at the lower end as a result poverty in the Philippines continued to increase,” he explained.

“The President’s goal is to reduce poverty which can only be done by accelerating growth, sustaining it and making sure we do the fundamental changes to keep it that way,” he added.

Purisima said the government will continue the conservative approach while working on the fundamentals “so that when the upturn in the global economy happens next year we will be able to capture more than our fair share.”

“Clearly we are very optimistic because not only are we focused on the right things but there are several trends going for the Philippines such as the continued growth of the outsourcing industry at 20 percent; the resilience of overseas Filipino workers’ remittances, the full integration of the semiconductor industry with the electronics industry of the Association of Southeast Asian nations and good mineral prices,” Purisima said.

“If we focus on the foundations, building the supply chain, building the infrastructure and really making sure that the macroeconomic fundamentals remain benign and stable, we're confident of getting a growth in our gross domestic product by 7 percent in 2010,” he added.

Purisima said the Monetary Board has approved the peso bond swap because it will enable the country to stretch the maturities of its debt papers and allow it some breathing space.

“Hopefully it will also deepen the interest in the capital market for long term instruments like 25- year bonds,” he said

Purisima said the peso bond swap will open up the market to longer tenor instruments and make the 25-year notes more liquid. This in turn will be good for infrastructure proponents and individuals seeking long term funds in the future as more longer term loans will now be available to those in need of funds.

On how much can be raised from the peso bond swap, Purisima said “it really depends on the market. It is up to Treasurer Tan to execute it in a manner that is good for the country. If the pricing is favorable we will swap more but if not, then we will swap less peso bonds.” (PCOO)

Nation observes Ninoy’s 78th Birth Anniversary Saturday

On Saturday, Nov. 27, the nation will observe the 78th Birth Anniversary of a great statesman and a well-loved Filipino – Senator Benigno “Ninoy” S. Aquino Jr.

This year’s birth anniversary of the most prominent opposition during the time of then President Ferdinand Marcos, is more significant since his only son, Benigno S. Aquino III, is now the country’s President.

Several activities remembering the martyred senator’s birth anniversary are slated on Saturday, but the President chose to observe a private and solemn commemoration.

The Aquino family, according to the Benigno S. Aquino Foundation, a non-stock, non-profit organization formed on Nov. 23, 1983 to continue the personal mission of the former senator after his assassination in 1983, will have a private family mass. The venue has yet to be disclosed.

The Foundation, in partnership with non-governmental organizations will hold the first –ever “Yellow Sale” starting Friday until Sunday at La Plaza in Tendesitas in Pasig City.

The event aims to promote micro-entrepreneurship and social enterprise as facets of “People Power.”

The City of Manila will hold a wreath-laying ceremony at the statue of Ninoy located outside the Intramuros walls right across the historic Manila Hotel and Rizal Park.

The late Senator Aquino was born in Tarlac from a highly respected family that had long been involved in politics. His paternal grandfather, General Servillano Aquino was a famed revolutionary who fought the Spaniards and then the Americans at the turn of the century. His father, Benigno Aquino Sr. was a House Speaker and then a senator.

Ninoy at a very young age became the Mayor of his hometown Concepcion, then Governor of Tarlac, then Senator of the Republic. As Senator, he was a staunch defender of human rights and became the number one critic of the Marcos administration.

After almost seven years and seven months in prison, Ninoy was allowed to fly to the United States along with his family to seek medical treatment for his heart ailment. He spent three years in the U.S.

In the early years of 1983, he received news of the deteriorating political situation in the Philippines. Many of his friends in politics urged him to return to the country before the extremists could take over. Despite all odds and aware of what might happen to him, he returned to the Philippines.

The assassination of Ninoy on August 21,1983 at the then Manila International Airport now Ninoy Aquino International Airport,. roused the nation. His death paved the way for his wife Cory to continue what he had left behind – the battle for the restoration of freedom and democracy.

Twenty-seven years after his death, Ninoy continues to inspire the Filipinos to take up the challenge of restoring freedom and trust in the country’s democratic system.

Ninoy was described as “a man who can set aside his own personal comfort, his interests, and even his life, to achieve greater good for the whole country.” (PCOO)

PIA Dispatch - Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Legal Affairs office assumes PAGC functions, says Ochoa

In line with the administration’s policy of stamping out corruption in the government and streamlining the bureaucracy for better efficiency, President Benigno S. Aquino III has signed Executive Order No. 13 formally transferring the functions of the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) to the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs (ODESLA).

Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said on Wednesday that the EO, which was signed Nov. 15, formally abolished the PAGC, one of 10 offices under the Office of the President (OP) which did not get any funding in the P4.075 billion budget it submitted to Congress for next year.

The other offices under OP which did not receive funding for next year because they duplicate the functions of line agencies and departments include the Mindanao Development Council, Office of the North Luzon Quadrangle Area, Office of External Affairs, Minerals Development Council, Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group, Luzon Urban Beltway Super Region, Bicol River Basin Watershed Management Project, Office of the Presidential Adviser on Global Warming and Climate Change, and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on New Government Centers.

“The PAGC is an example of the kind of redundancies we want to eliminate in government to allow us to better allocate our limited resources. It doesn’t make sense to have two or more government offices doing the same thing,” Ochoa explained. “It’s wasteful and inefficient.”

He said that personnel to be affected by the abolition of the PAGC would be able to avail of benefits under existing laws, and that his office would work with the Department of Budget and Management to ensure the smooth winding up of the PAGC’s activities, the deadline of which has been set for Dec. 31.

In addition to its Legal and Legislative Divisions, EO 13 creates the Investigative and Adjudicatory Division under ODESLA which shall be responsible for the investigative and adjudicative functions of the PAGC.

Assistant Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs Ronaldo A. Geron is the officer-in-charge of ODESLA. Geron has served the government in various capacities for over 20 years, including provincial administrator of Batangas and member of the provincial board.

Geron graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Law in 1987 and was admitted to the Bar in 1988. He also taught local governments, labor law and constitutional law at the University of Batangas. (PCOO)


Aquino joins call for sobriety between North, South Korea

President Benigno S. Aquino III has joined other nations today in calling for sobriety and an end to the renewed tension between North and South Korea which exchanged artillery fire Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda echoed the President statement during a press briefing where he assured families and relatives of Filipinos working and residing in both countries that the government is closely monitoring the situation there.

The President, according to Lacierda has ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and other agencies concerned with migrant workers to implement precautionary measures to protect and ensure the safety of thousands of Filipino migrant workers in the Korean Peninsula.

“We are closely monitoring it and I have tasked the relevant agencies to review their plans concerning the safety of our citizens there,” the President said in a text message he sent to Malacanang reporters.

Lacierda said Philippine Ambassador to South Korea Louie Cruz has informed them that there are no plans yet of evacuation but certain precautionary measures had been undertaken.

DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Esteban Conejos informed the President that the DFA is prepared to evacuate all 60,000 Filipinos in South Korea if and when needed.

Lacierda noted that the constant tension in the Korean Peninsula that started with North Korea’s nuclear testing two years ago prompted the Philippine government to draw up a contingency plan that includes mobilizing an extensive network of Filipino community leaders in dangerous situations.

He admitted that the Chief Executive is convening his security officials, which include the National Security Council and the Department of National Defense this afternoon, to discuss in the Cluster meeting the immediate possible response of the Philippine government to the concerns of the Korean situation.

There are sixty thousand Filipino nationals in South Korea and only nine are working in North Korea. Of the nine Filipino nationals, five are working for the United Nations, and four are working for a foreign international tobacco company. (PCOO)

Malacañang says no need for Cabinet performance check

There is no need to conduct a performance check on the Cabinet nor set a date to assess performance in various government agencies.

Thus said Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda in a press briefing on Wednesday (Nov. 24) at Malacañang even as he emphasized that President Benigno S. Aquino III is in constant communication with his Cabinet officials on a daily basis to ensure that their performance are on track.

“Ang Pangulo naman patuloy ang trabaho, patuloy rin ang pag-a-assess niya at pagpupulong sa mga cabinet secretaries, on a daily basis nakikipag-usap sa kanyang mga kalihim. So, alam niya po kung ano ang ginagawa ng kanyang mga kalihim”, Lacierda said.

“May daily trabaho ang Pangulo, may daily assessment rin na ginagawa ang ating Pangulo, hindi po natin kailangan ng one final date, it’s being done on a regular basis and the President is aware of what each cabinet official is doing”, he added.

Lacierda was reacting to calls from critics to conduct a performance assessment of cabinet officials.

He said that critics will always find fault with the cabinet officials adding that they are exerting necessary efforts to ensure the delivery of services to the people.

“There are some people who will always find fault with the cabinet, as far as the cabinet members are concerned, we are performing our best”, Lacierda noted.

In fact, he said, the economy is doing well under their concerted efforts to push the Aquino administration’s programs particularly those that will address poverty and promote good governance.

Lacierda added that by next year, more programs on poverty alleviation will be in place pending the budget approval.

“Hopefully the budget will be approved within this year, once it is approved we can move forward and address all these concerns specifically on poverty reduction and promotion of good governance”, he stressed.

Lacierda also expressed commitment for Cabinet members to do better than their present standing.

“It’s always a constant call for us to improve and to serve better the needs of the Filipino people. We are fully aware of that, iyan po ang aming trabaho and that’s a commitment we intend to keep”, Lacierda said. (PCOO)


Aquino to SingTel execs: Support BPO industry

President Benigno S. Aquino III today urged top officials of Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (Singtel) and its Philippine affiliate, Globe Telecom to support the country’s information and communication sector to further the growth of the business process outsourcing industry.

The President made the appeal during the courtesy call of the two firm’s top executive at the Premier Guest House of Malacañang.

Among his callers were Chua Sock Koong, group CEO; Paul O’ Sullivan, Chief Executive of the Sing Tel Optus Mobile; Hui Weng Cheong, CEO International (Designate); Jeann Low, Group Financial Officer; Koh Kah Sek, Group Treasurer, all of Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. And Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Chairman/CEO of Ayala Corp. and Ayala subsidiary, Globe Telecom Inc. president/CEO Ernest Cu.

Chua assured the President that Sing Tel remains committed to building its presence in the Philippines. For one, its local affiliate, Globe, is currently testing the Long Term Evolution (LTE), broadband technology a high performance air interface for cellular mobile’s that run at higher speeds and capacity.

The Sing Tel group’s footprint covers over 2 billion people across Asia and Africa, serving 36 million mobile customers in 25 countries. Aside from Globe, Sing Tel affiliates and subsidiaries include Australia’s Optus, Advanced Info Service (AIS) of Thailand, India’s Bharti Airtel and PT Telekomunikasi Selular (Telkomsel) of Indonesia.

The LTE trials demonstrate the strong cooperation among companies in the Sing Tel Group to develop products and services for the region. LTE will open doors to new and more powerful mobile solutions that will transform the way customers connect to each other. The regional trials underscore Sing Tel and its affiliates’ commitment to provide customers with more innovative and relevant services, Chua said.

Given the reality that 90 percent of the Philippine population use mobile phones, the broadband medium bears great potential to bridge the digital divide, where fixed line tele-density is a mere 5 percent and only 30 percent of Filipinos have access to the internet (largely via internet cafes) and barely 10 percent own personal computers that would enable such access, said Globe president Cu.

The LTE trials have had successes among equipment suppliers like NEC of Japan and Alcatel-Lucent of France and the United States. Vendors around the world can be expected to join the fray and compete for operators’ business by setting up or strengthening their local presence and operations, thereby creating jobs and knowledge.

The Philippines, being a recognized leader in the global BPO community, prompts companies like Globe to invest heavily in addressing the telecommunication requirements of BPO giants in various economic zones. Globe is well prepared to serve the local and international connectivity requirements of the BPO industry through its current two fiber-optic backbones nationwide.

Globe said it has so far invested several undersea cable systems like TGN-IA worth $90 million and SJC amounting to $60 million as well as cable landing stations. It said its partnership with foreign operators gives the company flexibility and capacity to provide customers with competitively-priced, reliable, top-class international connectivity. (PCOO)

Aquino gets Lee Kuan Yew book from Anvil officers

President Benigno S. Aquino III received on Wednesday a book authored by Singaporean statesman Lee Kuan Yew after inducting the officers of the 2010-211 Anvil Business Club at the Rizal Ceremonial Hall of Malacanang.

The Anvil Business Club, founded by 17 Filipino Chinese entrepreneurs in 1981, and had grown to 150 members made up of young, successful businessmen who espouse private enterprise, economic progress and traditional Confucian values.

The inductees said they gave President Aquino Lee’s personal memoirs of his rule in Singapore entitled “From Third World to First World” because they find several similarities between Lee and the President.

As one of Anvil’s founder, Wilson Lee, also a columnist of the Philippine Star and three-time president of the Club said: “President Noy is just like Lee Kuan Yew who is incorruptible and led his country from poverty to prosperity.”

Flores said President Aquino is incorruptible just like the Singaporean statesman, who was the first prime minister of the port state from 1959 to 1990.

Those inducted were: Daniel Ching, chairman; Stefan Tong, president; Roy Chua, executive vice president; Henry Ong, VP-Finance; Kenneth Hung, Warren So, Barnaby Chong, Jorge Ting, all vice presidents; and board of directors namely Jensen Chan, Marcelo Co, Kenneth Dee, Henry Kho, Jovenson Ong, Robert Marie Sy, William Villanueva and Reginald Yu. (PCOO)

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

PIA Dispatch - Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ochoa cites importance of Visiting Forces Agreement; stresses need for review

Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on Tuesday underscored the importance of the defense partnership with the United States under the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) in maintaining national and regional security, but said that a review of the treaty is necessary to ensure it reflects the interest of the nation.

Speaking before the organizational meeting of the Legislative Oversight Committee on the VFA (LOVFA) at the Senate, Ochoa recognized the long history that the Philippines and the US share and the role their alliance plays in promoting peace and stability.

After more than a decade since the VFA was ratified, the Aquino Administration, however, sees the need for a review to make sure that the bilateral pact promotes the interest of the country and addresses the contentious issues in the treaty, Ochoa said.

“The Aquino administration believes that the VFA remains in the national interest and is important and useful,” the Executive Secretary.

“However, we are also mindful that after 11 years of existence, it is timely for us to undertake a review of the agreement to ensure that it remains relevant and attuned to our national interest and that it addresses contentious issues, which have arisen in recent years,” he added.

Ochoa also told the Senate that the VFA Commission has already started its work ahead of the review by organizing technical working groups to study specific issues.

Aquino wears black arm band on first anniversary of Maguindanao massacre

CALAMBA CITY, Laguna: In a show of sympathy to the victims of the worst election-related violence in the country, President Benigno S. Aquino III wore a black band on his right arm Tuesday and joined the nation in marking the first anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre.

Clad in barong, the President showed up with the arm band in attending the groundbreaking ceremony for a facility of Nestlé Philippines Inc. at the First Philippines Industrial Park in Tanauan, Batangas and at the third annual convention of Regional Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (RTPIC) IV-A at the Yazaki-Torres Manufacturing Inc. plant here.

The President’s close-in security also wore black arm bands while the members of the Malacanang Press Corps who covered him here were in black shirts.

In a statement, the President assured the families and relatives of the 57 victims of the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre that his administration will do everything within his power to achieve a timely resolution of the case and ensure that it will not happen again.

“We will not rest until justice has been served,” he stressed noting that he has ordered Justice Secretary Leila De Lima to keep updated him on the status of the case.

The President pointed out that the resolution of the has become a litmus test of the country’s justice system, noting that it is one of the top priorities of the justice Department.

He noted that as of press time, 57 cases have been filed and pending before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court 221, while 49 of the 196 accused in the case “People vs. Andal Ampatuan Jr. et al” have been arraigned. Eighty one have been also arrested, while one victim remains missing.

The President said he is not inclined on lifting the state of emergency in Maguindanao after authorities assessed that there is still a need to ensure the safety and security of the residents.

The President added that the search for illegal firearms in the province and pursuit of the massacre suspects are still ongoing.

A day after the brutal killings, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo placed Maguindanao and nearby areas under a state of emergency. On December 5, she also placed Maguindanao under martial law and lifted it a few days later although the state of emergency remained up to the present.

Aquino leads groundbreaking of P4.3-B Nestle factory in Batangas

TANAUAN, Batangas: President Benigno S. Aquino III led groundbreaking rites for food giant Nestle Corporation’s fifth manufacturing facility in the country during his visit to the province Tuesday.

To be built at a cost of P4.3-billion on a 27-hectare lot located within the First Philippine Industrial Park here, the new factory, once completed will contribute to the growth of the domestic economy; provide direct employment for a new work force of 170 while creating many other jobs for businesses supplying the facility with raw materials and services.

In a speech keynoting the historic ceremony, President Aquino lauded Nestle, represented by its Philippine chairman and CEO John Miller, for choosing to do business in the country.

“Our burgeoning manufacturing industry, which in 2010 contributed 83 billion pesos to our Gross National Product (GNP), owes a great deal to your efforts,” the President said, adding, “your sector has given rise to three million jobs, comprising eight percent of our country’s total labor force.”

“Slowly but surely, companies such as yours have contributed to the success story that we want our national experience to be. I am hopeful that you will continue with your operations, and I pray for your further success,” he added.

The President said this new investment represented the renewed vigor and confidence investors see of the Philippines.

“The foundation of a thriving economy is confidence,” the President said citing the overwhelming response potential investors had during last week’s launch of his government’s public-private partnership initiative through Infrastructure Philippines, which attracted no less than 600 domestic and foreign fund managers, bankers, and other potential investors.

“They (investors) sense that the country has turned a corner. That what was impossible yesterday -- trusting the government to deal with investors fairly and predictably is not only possible, but a mutually beneficial opportunity now,” the President said.

To entice more investors to open up shops in the country, the President said his government has embarked on “cleaning up” the required processes needed to allow investments to flow freely.

“From cutting red tape, to undertaking the prioritization of key industries, to developing and promoting a region-based promotion program, we are maximizing opportunities brought about by international trade and investment agreements,” the President said.

“The Philippine Government is committed to extending all the necessary support to ensure the smooth operations of firms already established in this country, such as Nestle, towards long-term growth and economic development,” he added.

“Moreover, my whole team is committed toward the creation of a business environment that is rational, transparent, and predictable. And here, we have already had successes. We have reduced the time it takes to register a business name from four to eight-hour endless days to fifteen minutes and reduced the information requirements from sixteen to seven fields. This also can now be done online,” the President said.

In ending, the President vowed to work harder at implementing reforms that will truly bring change to the country.

“We will not let you down. The change has begun; it can be accomplished. Together, we will make possible what was for so long, thought to be impossible: a Philippines so successful, so confident, so capable, that the contrast with the past will be like the difference between night and day,” the President said.

President Aquino announces creation of DOF’s perangbayan website

TANAUAN, Batangas: President Benigno S. Aquino III announced today the creation of the Department of Finance’s PeraNgBayan website ( aimed at providing Filipino citizens a venue to report any misuse of public funds.

“While we’re on the topic of the worldwide web, allow me to mention that the Department of Finance has also recently established a website, called ”Pera Ng Bayan,” which receives complaints on the misuse of public funds,” the President said in his speech keynoting ground breaking ceremonies for Nestle Philippines’ fifth manufacturing plant here.

“We have also increased opportunities to punish fraud by taxpayers and government employees by having the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs file highly visible corruption cases alternating every other week,” he added.

Pera ng Bayan is an initiative of the Office of the Secretary of Finance in line with the Aquino Administration’s efforts to make good on its credo “Kung walang corrupt, walang Mahirap.”

The Pera ng Bayan website provides a feedback mechanism from the citizens to the Department of Finance and its attached agencies utilizing relevant social network tools.

The citizens should be able to send information relevant to graft, improper action, negligence, lavish lifestyle and other illegal practices of civil servants under the department, as well as report exemplary performance of the same.

This will enable the citizens in becoming an active partner in the Department’s drive against tax evaders, smugglers, and erring officials of the Department and its attached agencies such as the BIR and BOC.

Aquino confident gross domestic product to continue upward trend

CALAMBA, Laguna: President Benigno S. Aquino III expressed confidence today that the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) would retain its upward trend despite a decrease in election spending.

In a press conference, the President said this upward trend of the GDP would be buoyed by the string of new investments put up by investors in the past few days.

The President said he had just come from groundbreaking rites for the P4.3-billion manufacturing plant of Nestle Philippines in Tanauan, Batangas and that Proctor and Gamble, another top manufacturing firm, which is celebrating its 75th year of doing business in the country will build a new plant to the tune of P2.5-billion.

The President also pointed out that the recent launch of his government’s public-private partnership program last week piqued the interest of 600 to 700 potential investors.

“So I should expect even if there is a downturn because of the lack of election spending component, we expect that we will be maintaining the upward trend of all of our GDP figures and perhaps in a faster period of time than what was initially envisioned,” the President said.

“This is due to the fact that there is optimism across the board from the workers to the investors to even people in government,” he added.

“So this will redound to an active and more fruitful cooperation among all of these sectors and we are hoping we get the same treatment from both the legislature and the judiciary,” the President said.

The gross domestic product (GDP) or gross domestic income (GDI) is the amount of goods and services produced in a year in a country. It is the market value of all final goods and services made within the borders of a country in a year. It is often positively correlated with the standard of living, alternative measures to GDP for that purpose.

President Aquino open to amend Proclamation No. 50

CALAMBA, Laguna – President Benigno S. Aquino III said today that he is open to the possibility of amending Proclamation No. 50 granting “amnesty to active and former personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and their supporters who may have committed acts or omissions punishable under the revised penal code, the articles of war or other special laws committed in connection with the Oakwood Mutiny, the Marines Stand-Off and the Manila Pen Incident and Related Incidents.”

In a press conference held at the Yazaki-Torres Manufacturing Plant here this morning, the President said he was for amending said proclamation if the discussions between the three branches of government (executive, legislative and judicial) warrant such.

It was the senate that initiated this proposal for amnesty, so we expect this matter to be under discussions, since we have three branches of government, the President said, adding that whatever the senate decides will be taken into consideration.

“We are open to amendments that are being proposed,” the Chief Executive continued. We are ready to improve Proclamation 50.

Aquino orders review of labor code

CALAMBA CITY, Laguna: President Benigno S. Aquino III ordered Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz on Tuesday to review the existing labor code for the possible revision of Article 275 so that more stakeholders could actively participate in the Tripartite Industrial Peace Council (TIPC).

The President issued the directives to Baldoz at the 3rd annual convention of the Regional Tripartite Peace Council Region IV-A (CALABARZON) at the Yazaki-Torres Manufacturing Inc. Plant here.

He had tasked Baldoz to review existing Executive Order to further strengthen the TIPC membership as well as its role and functions.

“With these, we can expect enough funding for the local tripartite councils, and a clear guideline in selecting representatives for the local and national tripartite council,” the President told union leaders, businessmen, local chief executives, non-government organizations, academicians, human practitioners and labor advocates present in the convention.

The Philippine Government adopted tripartism as a state policy, particularly by virtue of Section 3, Article XIII (Social Justice and Human Rights) of the Philippine Constitution, Article 275 (Tripartism and Tripartite Conferences) of the Philippine Labor Code, as amended, and by ratification of International Labor Organization Convention No. 144 (Tripartite Consultations to Promote the Implementation of International Labor Standards).

The program involves the promotion of tripartite industrial peace council’s formation, as well as the industry tripartite councils, in the national, regional, city/municipal and provincial levels. It also includes the institutionalization of social dialogues and tripartite consultations on policies and programs affecting labor and management.

He pointed out that continued dialogues and coordination is the key to resolve and protect the interest of both workers and employers.

He informed stakeholders that DOLE will still pursue Department Order No. 107–10, by implementing mandatory 30-day conciliation and mediation in all labor cases which includes cases directly filed at the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).

“This is within the principles of our administration,” he noted adding that the Labor Department is open to all. “Kung bukas din naman po ang puso at isipan ng mga stakeholder, tiyak na lilitaw ang resolusyong katanggap-tanggap para sa lahat,” he said.

Malacanang joins Mendiola rally to commemorate Maguindanao massacre

Malacanang joined the local and international community in commemorating the first year anniversary of the massacre of 58 innocent civilians, including 32 mediamen in Maguindanao province last year.

At a rally at the footbridge of Mendiola Bridge on Tuesday night, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said President Benigno S. Aquino joins the family of the victims who are crying out for justice since the massacre last year.

"We will ensure that justice will be done under this administration,” Lacierda said. “We will ensure that our prosecutors will do their best to ensure that justice is done and justice is served in this case.”

Lacierda, wearing a black armband, told the crowd that the President already asked the Supreme Court to allow the live coverage during the trial of the case which started last September.

The President also issued an order on Monday declaring November 23 as National Day of Remembrance for the victims of Maguindanao massacre.

Among those present during the rally were Deputy Spokesperson Abigail Valte, members and officers of Philippine media groups including the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP, and representatives of international media organizations. (PCOO)