President Benigno S. Aquino III has officially proclaimed the Balete (Ficus concinma) or dalakit tree located at the State Entrance of Malacañang Palace in Manila as a Heritage Tree.
The President led the ceremonial unveiling of the commemorative marker of the new Heritage Tree on Monday at the sidelines of the launching of the United Nations Decade of Biodiversity in Malacañang.
The President said that this proclamation is a “fitting symbol of our commitment to the United Nations Decade of Biodiversity.”
“I hereby proclaim the Balete tree located in front of this hallowed hall as our Heritage Tree,” the President said.
“In making it a Heritage Tree, it will constantly remind us of our obligations, both as citizens of this country and as stewards of this planet,” he added.
The tree dates as far back as the 1800s and, according to historians, has stood witness to the unfolding of our country’s history from the Spanish-American War to the People Power Revolution to EDSA II.
The UN Decade of Biodiversity (2011-2020) was agreed upon by the UN General Assembly in response to the recommendation of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The UNDB aims to: highlight the importance of biodiversity for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals; emphasize the need to achieve full implementation of the objectives of the Convention and other biodiversity-related conventions, organizations and processes; reaffirm the importance of raising public awareness on biodiversity-related issues; and, stress the need to build on the momentum achieved by the celebration of the International Year of Biodiversity. (PCOO)
Aquino signs Presidential Proclamation declaring National Decade on Biodiversity
President Benigno S. Aquino III has signed a Presidential Proclamation declaring the year 2011 to 2020 as the National Decade on Biodiversity in the country, an initiative recognizing the United Nations’ (UN) celebration as an excellent opportunity to increase public awareness on the values of biodiversity and promote actions at the national, regional and local levels to conserve and sustainably manage the nation’s rich natural heritage.
During the launch of the UN Decade on Biodiversity for Southeast Asia at the Rizal Hall of the Malacañang Palace Monday, Secretary Ramon Paje of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) handed over a copy of the Presidential Proclamation to Dr. Ahmed Djoghlaf, UN Assistant Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
The President witnessed the event as well as members of the diplomatic corps from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Also in attendance were high level government officials, conservation organizations and the business community.
“It is important for us to continue down the path of preserving biodiversity. Therefore, in support of the United Nations, I declare 2011-2020 as the National Decade on Biodiversity in the Philippines,” President Aquino said.
Due to multiple cases of deforestation, wildlife hunting, climate change, pollution and population growth, the Southeast Asian region is losing a number of endangered species.
The Chief Executive urged fellow leaders and the people all over the world to act now as he noted the various efforts being done by the government to address such problem.
“Our region is on the brink of losing a significant number of endangered species… if it was not clear before, then it is as clear as day now: we need to act. We need to act now, our administration has already begun a number of programs to preserve vulnerable species and habitats”, the President stressed.
The government initiatives on environmental protection include the pursuance of biodiversity conservation efforts in the region, as expressed by President Aquino during the 18th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia recently. Such efforts include the Coral Triangle, the Greater Mekong Program, the Heart of Borneo Initiative and the ASEAN Heritage Parks.
The DENR has also launched a project to expand the terrestrial protected areas in the country, beginning with the nine key biodiversity areas.
The recently-inaugurated National Greening Program of the Aquino administration focused on planting 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 billion hectares of land across the country from 2011 to 2016 which complements Executive Order No. 23 calling for a total log ban in the country’s natural and residual forests and consequently establishing an anti-illegal logging task force to implement the campaign.
Following the event, the President together with Dr. Djoghlaf led the commemorative unveiling of the Malacañang Heritage Tree to demonstrate the commitment of the country and ASEAN toward the conservation and sustainable management of biodiversity.
Earlier, Dr. Djoghlaf paid a call to the President and they discussed the various concerns regarding the preservation and protection of the environment.
Passionately involved the UN system and the CBD processes, Dr. Djoghlaf was the General Rapporteur of the Preparatory Committee of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) or the Earth Summit in 1992 and the Vice Chairman of the Eleventh Session of the Intergovernmental Committee on Science and Technology for Development in 1991. He holds a PhD from the University of Nancy, France. (PCOO)
Aquino confident economy will meet target
President Benigno S. Aquino III expressed confidence Monday that the Philippine economy would hit its growth target of seven to eight percent by the end of the year due to the reforms being implemented in government that will entice businesses to invest in the country.
In an interview in Malacañang following the launch of the United Nations Decade of Biodiversity on Monday, the President said the country’s gross domestic product of 4.8 percent as posted by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) for the first quarter of the year was almost the same as those posted by our neighboring countries and was indicative of the effects of the earthquake that struck Japan in March and the turmoil that rocked the Middle East in February.
“If we compare our GDP with that of our neighboring countries, we are not that low end. We all have been affected by the Middle East crisis and the earthquake that struck Japan which we all know to be one of our largest trading partner and source of overseas development assistance,” the President said.
He said the government will be able to pump prime the economy for the second quarter of the year by inviting domestic and foreign businesses to invest in the country through the government’s Public Private Partnership (PPP) program.
He said this investment program coupled with the lowering of crude and electricity prices is key to reaching our economic growth target for the year.
“So, palagay namin gaganda pa itong mga numerong ito,” the President said referring to the GDP growth numbers. (PCOO)
Aquino all set for 2-day state visit to Brunei Darussalam
President Benigno S. Aquino III will be discussing various issues on trade and investment, energy and regional concerns with His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah during his 2-day state visit to Brunei Darussalam on June 1 and 2.
In an ambush interview with the media following the launching of the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity in Southeast Asia at the Palace on Monday, the President said that part of the possible topics to be discussed during his meeting with the high-ranking officials of Brunei may include the development of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and its possible use in the country, especially for public transport, that could eventually help in the government’s measures to mitigate the effects of the increasing prices of petroleum products to the people.
“Meron tayong substantial gas deposits dito, meron din silang expertise pwede tayong magkatulungan doon, na tulungan tayong ma-exploit, ma-set up baka pwede rin ma-advance iyong paglilipat natin sa natural gas para sa ating transport sector”, the President said.
“Kapag magagamit nitong mga public transport iyong tinatawag na liquefied natural gas o iyong compressed natural gas, may natural gas tayo. Hindi na natin aangkatin, tayo ang magsasabi kung ano ang presyo nun. Malaking kabawasan doon sa iluluwal nating pera para mabili iyong diesel”, he added.
The Chief Executive said that using LNG and CNG could also protect the country from the fluctuating oil prices in the global market.
“More importantly, dito mai-insulate tayo, lalo na ang transport sector doon sa pabago-bagong presyo sa pandaigdigang presyo ng krudo…” the President said.
He noted the common problems that could also be discussed during the visit including the issue on the South China Sea.
“Meron din mga common problems na tulad nung South China Sea issue na gusto nating magkasundo sana, magkaroon ng meeting of the minds, magkaroon ng Asean centrality ang both nung pagreresolba ng ating issue sa South China sea”, President Aquino said.
When asked on his agenda with the business community in Brunei, the President said that he will be promoting Philippine industries highlighting the Filipino investors that have already ventured internationally.
“Amongst the things that I will be doing there siyempre, promote our own industry. Gusto rin natin i-highlight itong mga… meron tayong mga Filipino investors na talagang naging world class na rin”, the President explained.
Apart from Sultan Bolkiah, President Aquino is also expected to meet with other officials of Brunei led by their Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister H.R.H. Prince Mohamed Bolkiah. (PCOO)
Busy schedule awaits President Aquino in his 2-day state visit in Brunei
BRUNEI DARUSSALAM: A hectic schedule composed of meetings, speaking engagements and more meetings await President Benigno S. Aquino III when he arrives here for a 2-day state visit from June 1-2.
The President, who will be accompanied by a lean delegation, will be welcomed by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah upon the President’s arrival at the Bandar Seri Begawan International Airport on Wednesday.
The President and the Sultan will then hold a closed-door meeting immediately after the arrival honors.
In the afternoon, the President will meet the Filipino community in Brunei at the Rizqun International Hotel. This will be followed by his visit to the Philippine Embassy for the unveiling of the commemorative marker for the embassy’s new chancery.
A string of events then mark the President’s first day that include visits to the New Muara Container Terminal Services SDN BHD at Jabatan Pelabuhan and a Jolibee outlet in Serusop Complex for a visit.
Capping off the President’s first night of his official visit here is a state banquet at the Istana Nurullman.
The following day’s activities will be marked by a series of meetings with business organizations in Brunei.
Among the business organizations the President will be meeting with are: the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB), QAF Brunei SDN BHD Co. Ltd, Brunei Investment Agency and MASHHOR Group of Companies.
In the afternoon, the President will take a tour the Royal Regalia, a major landmark in Brunei.
He will also tour the Jame’ Asr Hassanal Bolkiah Mosque, the largest mosque in Brunei. The mosque was built to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Sultan’s rule.
The President will then proceed to the Bandar Seri Begawan International Airport to depart for Manila.
Diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam were established in January 1984 when the Philippine consulate general in Bandar Seri Begawan was elevated to an embassy.
Bilateral relations between the two countries, meanwhile, can be described as “close, fraternal and excellent,” with the political, economic and military and socio-cultural ties have continued to expand in recent years. (PCOO)
Aquino to meet with Filipino community during his 2-day state visit to Brunei Darussalam
BRUNEI DARUSSALAM: President Benigno S. Aquino III will meet with the Filipino Community (FilCom) at the Rizqun International Hotel as part of the busy schedule of his 2-day State Visit here on June 1 to 2.
Government records show an estimated 18,589 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who are with their families living in Brunei as of December last year.
The Philippine Overseas Labor Officer (POLO) from the Philippine Embassy in Brunei Darussalam said that the total number of OFWs and their families living here decreased from 22,000 in 2008 to 18,000 in 2010. The decrease, POLO said, was due to the closure of the local garments industry.
The POLO also noted that temporary migrants comprise the bulk of these OFWs or 17,657 out of the total number of migrants. Filipino workers here are mostly skilled workers that include masons, carpenters, technicians, electricians, plumbers and heavy equipment operators. They comprise the 30 per cent of the total number of OFWs here.
They are followed by those who are categorized as semi-skilled who are working as waiters and waitresses, sewers, sales assistants, cashiers, janitors and transport drivers. The group is around 29 per cent of the total number of OFWs while the remaining 18 and 17 per cent were composed of professionals and household workers, respectively. Household workers include domestic helpers, family drivers and gardeners.
Filipino workers in Brunei enjoy a satisfactory condition and are being treated well by their employers and given value for their skills, dependability, work attitude and loyalty. (PCOO)
Aquino announces irrevocable resignation of Bureau of Corrections director
President Benigno C. Aquino III accepted on Monday the irrevocable resignation of Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Ernesto Diokno, saying his resignation would pave the way for the implementation of reforms in the correctional system.
In a news briefing at Malacanang on Monday, Aquino thanked his long-time friend Diokno for his service and delikadeza.
“Ang kanyang pagbaba sa pwesto ay magbibigay daan sa agarang pagpapatupad ng mga reforma nais natin gawin sa ating systemang correctional, marami po rin dito ay tinukoy na rin po niya (referring to Diokno),” Aquino said.
Diokno resigned amid reports of alleged special treatment given to former Batangas Governor Antonio Leviste.
The President said public thrust remains the foremost consideration in serving the public.
“Nakasalalay ang pagbibigay serbisyong publiko sa tiwala ng taongbayan, kaya naman may kalayaan ang mga naninilbihan sa pamahalaan na timbangin kung nagampanan ba nila ang kanilang sinumpaang tungkulin,” Aquino said.
The President said “Pinupuri ko po si Ginoong Diokno sa kanyang pagsasang-ayon sa kanya konsensiya.”
“Mulit-muli nating idinidiin na may kaakibat na katapatan at responsiblidad ang pagiging isang likod-bayan,” he said.
With the BuCor incident, the President reassured that he only considers the public interest in all his decisions and not his friendship neither his relationship with anyone.
The President also said the Department of Justice (DOJ) under the helm of Secretary Leila de Lima already submitted the report on the BuCor incident.
The DOJ, Aquino said, recommended the filing of an administrative case against the resigned BuCor director. “But since he already resigned, it is already moot and academic,” the President said.
He also said he was already considering somebody as a possible replacement for Diokno but did not reveal the name.
Aquino said he would further study the recommendations submitted by the DOJ. “Ang mga naging kaganapan sa Bureau of Corrections ay ating susurin upang maiwasto ang mga patakaran sa ating mga bilangguan,’ he said. (PCOO)