Thursday, 23 June 2011

PIA Dispatch - Thursday, June 23, 2011

President Aquino launches DPWH hotline

President Benigno S. Aquino III launches the Department of Public Works and Highways’ “call center hotline” that aims to promote transparency and improve the DPWH’s complaints and feedback mechanism, during the Chief Executive’s visit to the agency’s headquarters in Manila Thursday.

The launching of the DPWH 24/7call center hotline 165-02, which is being undertaken in cooperation with Solutions People Innovation (SPi)-Global Inc., a subsidiary of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), coincides with the commemoration of the department’s 113th anniversary.

SPi-Global Inc.’s relationship with PLDT ensures that DPWH can provide clients with a highly reliable operating platform, 24/7 connectivity and best-of-breed technology.

Aside from the launch, the President, who will be joined by DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson, will also lead awarding ceremonies honoring 25 DPWH retirees and 20 loyalty awardees who have spent 40 years and above in public service with the Department. (PCOO)

Aquino leads activation of DPWH 24/7 hotline

In keeping with President Benigno S. Aquino III's directive to make dealings with government closer and more transparent for the people, the Department of Public Works and Highways has tapped industry leader Solutions People Innovation (SPI)-Global Inc., a subsidiary of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), to head the department's 24/7 call center hotline which will allow the agency to immediately respond to complaints and queries within its jurisdiction.

No less than President Benigno S. Aquino III led the ceremonial “activation” of DPWH hotline 165-02 by making the inaugural call formally opening the service to the public.

The DPWH hotline 165-02 is now available 24/7 to those who wish to report damaged roads and other public infrastructure, inquire about the department's projects, make suggestions, file complaints and even report wrongdoings of DPWH officials and employees.

In his speech keynoting the launching ceremonies of the call center, which coincided with the DPWH's 113th Founding Anniversary, the President lauded the agency for its pioneering efforts in improving the delivery of its key services to the people.

“Kaya naman ikinagagalak kong maging bahagi sa pagbubukas ng DPWH call center hotline. Ngayon may 165-02 hotline na ang DPWH na bukas beinte-kuwatro oras, isang tawag na lang ay maaari nang maipaabot ni Juan dela Cruz ang kaniyang mga hinaing o mungkahi sa DPWH,” the President said.

“Sagisag itong palaging bukas ang inyong ahensya sa anumang suhestiyon at reklamo na magbibigay-daan sa paghahatid ng mas mataas na kalidad ng serbisyo sa ating mga kababayan,” he added.

For his part, DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson said the launching of the call center hotline “signifies our commitment to provide higher levels of service in the coming years.”

“Filipinos anywhere in the country can now just call '165-02' if they see any potholes in our roads or if they have any other concerns with the department. The DPWH anniversary is certainly the perfect time to launch this call center,” Singson said.

The DPWH was established on June 23, 1898 by then President General Emilio Aguinaldo as among the pioneering government offices after his proclamation of Philippine Independence. (PCOO)

Gov't to save P7-billion from stringent reforms of DPWH

The government expects to save some P7-billion from reforms implemented in the Department of Public Works and Highways, President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Thursday.

In his speech keynoting the DPWH's 113th Anniversary in Manila, the President said these reforms include the implementation of a transparent and stricter bidding process in the agency.

“Tumatahak na nga po sa tuwid na daan ang inyong ahensya. Patunay dito ang pagbusisi ninyo sa walumpu't anim na kontratang nasa ilalim ng Post-Ondoy and Pepeng Short-Term Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project na may kabuuang halaga na 3.5 bilyong piso,” the President said.

“Labing siyam (19) po sa mga kontratang ito ay kinansela natin matapos na maungkat na ilan sa mga ito ay pinalusot dahil sa mga politikal na kadahilanan at hindi talaga dumaan sa patas na bidding process,” he added.

He noted that the DPWH was able to save an additional P2.12-billion from July 2010 to April 2011 due to the implementation of stringent public bidding rules.

All these savings, the President said, would go to the construction of more schools and hospitals.

"At bago po matapos ang taong 2011, inaasahang ang kabuuang matitipid natin ay aabot sa humigit-kumulang pitong bilyong piso, na maaaring pandagdag sa mga ipapatayo nating paaralan at pagamutan," the President said.

“Wala pong duda na unti-unti nang nabubura ang madungis na reputasyong matagal nang pinapasan ng DPWH, at humahakbang na tayo tungo sa mas maaliwalas at tuwid na kabanata sa kasaysayan ng inyong ahensya,” he said. (PCOO)

Malacanang calls for unity in giving assistance to victims of flashfloods in Mindanao

Malacanang called for unity, especially at this time that the country is facing many challenges including damages brought about by the onslaught of natural calamities, specifically in Mindanao, as it commended the various concerned agencies who have worked hard to carry out the relief and infrastructure operations of the national government in the region.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda made the call in an official statement issued on Thursday asking for solidarity rather than politicizing the efforts of the government in providing assistance to those who were greatly affected by the massive flooding that led to the uncontrolled spread of water lilies and caused the Rio Grande de Mindanao River to overflow after several days of heavy downpour.

The floodwaters have submerged at least 37 villages in Cotabato City alone and displaced some 6,000 families.

“At a time that calls for solidarity to effectively assist our countrymen in Mindanao, it is unfortunate that some officials choose to politicize relief efforts,” Lacierda said.

Reports show that instead of cooperating with the concerned national agencies to effectively address the problem and efficiently deliver help to the people, Cotabato City Mayor Japal Guiani Jr. has resorted to fabricate stories against the government that consequently exacerbate the already unfortunate situation.

In efforts to clarify the negative statements by the local official, Lacierda made it clear that President Benigno S. Aquino III’s visit to the area was to oversee the relief operations and to inspect its progress.

“When Cotabato City Mayor Guiani goes before national media to tell lies, your government is obligated to tell the truth. There is no basis to Mayor Guiani’s prevarication that the National Government has not sent relief or aid to Cotabato City, going as far as accusing the President of not bringing relief goods,” Lacierda said.

“The President went to Cotabato City to oversee relief operations and to inspect the progress of efforts to assist the city’s residents. This administration has a coordinated system for the sending of relief and assistance, including prepositioning equipment and materials so that they can be dispatched efficiently and promptly as soon as conditions permit,” he added.

Lacierda further said that even before the President’s visit to Cotabato City, the government has already announced to the public the details of the ongoing relief efforts for the victims of the flashfloods.

“The day before the President went to Cotabato City, Communications Secretary Ramon Carandang had already informed the public that 40 evacuation centers had been established with about 91,000 people being served by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).” Lacierda said.

“The public had already been informed that the relief goods were there. Secretary Carandang reported that the National Government had already spent P12 million for operations, of which P7 million came from the DSWD; the National Government contributed P3.45-million, and about P350 thousand was given by non-government organizations.” he added.

Lacierda noted that in Cotabato City alone, the DSWD has provided over seven million pesos-worth of relief goods. The Department of Education (DepEd) has also opened schools for the evacuees where they were given clothes, mats and food from various donations with help from the Civil Society Organizations and the office of the City Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema.

“In Cotabato City alone, the DSWD has provided P7,799,260 worth of food and nonfood items (relief goods) to affected families. The DepEd had also agreed to open up schools for the evacuees in order to decongest some of the evacuation centers. Donations in the form of clothing, mats and food have also been distributed to the families in the evacuation centers. The DSWD is managing the evacuation centers to ensure that the centers are up to standards in terms of sanitation and for the proper distribution of relief goods. With respect to those who are not in evacuation centers, relief goods will be distributed by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and through the office of Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema,” Lacierda said.

The Department of Health (DoH), for its part, has provided seventy thousand-worth of medicines for the victims. Necessary equipment has also been deployed to help in the de-clogging operations on the water lilies-infested river.

“Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo reports that the Department of Health has already provided medicines worth P70,000. Equipment has also been deployed for the clearing of Delta Bridge, and two Watermaster dredgers, one backhoe on barge, and almost 500 workers (combined AFP, PNP, BFP, DPWH) are working round-the-clock. Chainsaws provided by DENR are being used to clear debris. All these equipment from the National Government have reduced water lily infestation from 20 hectares to one hectare,” Lacierda noted.

He assured the national government’s commitment in accomplishing its responsibilities to deliver the needs of the people and not only to convey self-promotion.

“Your National Government is attending to the needs of our countrymen in Mindanao. We reiterate that solidarity and not self-promotion is what is called for in times when natural disasters strike. The Mayor of Cotabato City has done his constituents a disservice. Instead of attending to their needs, he chose to tell lies and pass the buck,” Lacierda said.

“We commend the departments and agencies who are working with responsible local officials and the people of Cotabato City to help our people instead of engaging in negativity and outright fabrications,” he added. (PCOO)

PIA Dispatch - Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Aquino maintains near historical high results from survey firms

Malacanang expressed President Benigno S. Aquino III’s gratefulness to the Filipino people over the latest survey results that reflect a wide-ranging support for the administration’s efforts to curb corruption, pursue inclusive growth, and deliver basic services.

In a media interview at the Palace Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that the President’s performance and trust ratings remained at near-historical highs as shown in the recent Pulse Asia “Ulat sa Bayan Survey” both recorded at 71 percentage points for the survey period of May 21 to June 4, 2011.

Lacierda said that the results from surveys conducted by the two different firms, Social Weather Station (SWS) and Pulse Asia, merely shows almost the same results which disprove attempts by some opposition groups to convince the public on the eroding support of the people to the Aquino administration.

“There is a difference in the way survey results are being handled by both survey firms… SWS would report on the net satisfaction rating but if you look at the gross satisfaction rating or the gross approval, they are almost near the same… SWS says 64 while Pulse Asia has 71… so we believe that this would disprove the opposition’s attempts to convince the public that the people are no longer behind the President, this just proves otherwise,” Lacierda said.

“Sa Pulse Asia 71, which is near historical high… his highest was I think 80 or 79? So mataas pa rin so hindi nag-iiba masyado sa SWS gross satisfaction numbers…” he added.

In a recent study, the Pulse Asia said that based on its face-to-face interviews with 1,200 people, 71 percent or seven in 10 Filipinos trust and approve of the performance of President Aquino.

Pulse Asia said that the difference from the President's ratings compared to the March 2011 survey "do not vary significantly."

In a separate survey released by the SWS, the President’s net rating slipped from a record high of 64 in November last year to 46 this month, with 64 percent of Filipinos saying they were satisfied with his performance and 18 percent dissatisfied.

The survey was conducted from June 3 to 6 among 1,200 respondents.

SWS said the Chief Executive’s new scores, despite the drop, were all in the “good” and “very good” ranges across all areas, social classes and sex.

The President assured that he will remain committed to leading the nation to the straight and righteous path towards equitable progress. (PCOO)

Aquino says China must follow international law

COTABATO CITY: China must adhere to international law in resolving the dispute in the South China Sea, President Aquino III said on Wednesday in a press conference in Cotabato City.

The President was reacting to a question from the media regarding the call of US Republican Sen. John McCain who said the US government must help Southeast Asian countries build up naval defenses to counter aggressive Chinese actions in the South China Sea.

The US should aid the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to build their maritime defense and detection capabilities and to develop and deploy basic systems such as early- warning radar and coastal security vessels, according to McCain in his speech in Washington.

The President said claimant countries must adhere to international law by using the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to settle the dispute in the South China Sea.

UNCLOS which was promulgated in 1982, says that an exclusive economic zone of a country is defined as 200 miles from its continental shelf, he said.

The President noted that Reed Bank, which is not part of the dispute until China came up with its 9 dash theory, is 80 miles from Palawan and about 570 miles from Hainan Island in China, the closest point from Chinese territory.

“So pag sinabi nating adhere to international law and we expect China to adhere to that and with America backing us up and other Asean claimants we expect that the UN, America and other interested parties who have to traverse this body of water will insist their freedom of navigation and adherence to UNCLOS,” he said.

But the President stressed that the Philippines’s actions shouldn’t be interpreted as aggressive posturing towards other claimant countries in the South China Sea.

“I don’t think that I would be doing my duty to the people and to the state if you agree na ‘sige lahat ng gusto n’yo sa inyo na lang dahil ang laki nyo sa amin.’ Mukha hong maling prinsipyo iyun. Our basis for our claim is well-founded especially under this treaty ratified by so many countries including China,” the President added.

McCain, a ranking member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, said China’s aggressive behavior and its unsubstantiated territorial claims in the South China Sea are exacerbating tensions.

Tensions have been high in the area as the Philippines and Vietnam claim Chinese ships had harassed their oil and gas survey vessels. (PCOO)

Aquino assures LGUs of his support in its problem with water lilies

COTABATO CITY: President Benigno S. Aquino III assured all local government units in Region 12 and the residents of Cotabato City that the national government will continue to help them in its war versus water hyacinths along Mindanao River Basin specifically in Rio Grande de Mindanao and its tributaries.

“The government will definitely help you, and the LGUs to resolve the problem on water hyacinths. Tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang clearing and removal of water lilies,” he said in a press briefing at the 6th Infantry Division headquarters in Camp Gonzalo Siongco in Awang, Maguindanao.

The President made the response when asked by a local reporter if the military from the 6th Infantry Division and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DWPH) will continue its dredging and removal of water hyacinths along Rio Grande de Mindanao River even if he already left and end his more than 4-hours of visit in Cotabato City.

“Sinisiguro ko sa inyo kahit wala ako dito (at nasa Manila) dapat may nag-aasikaso dito at itutuloy ang clearing at removal ng water lilies,” he stressed.

Also in the same press conference, the President ordered the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Health (DoH) to ensure that all basic needs of families such as blankets, food supplies, medicines and potable water in the evacuation centers are addressed upon.

He also said that he will ask the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) to conduct a feasibility studies on the possibilities of using water lilies to be converted as bio-fuel or alternative source of fuel.

Earlier, the President made an aerial inspection to personally oversee and assess the extent of damage of massive flooding and where the water lilies that clogged at the Delta Bridge in Cotabato City came from.

After the aerial inspection, the President received a briefing from Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Benito Ramos and observed the soldiers from the 6th ID and volunteer residents in the ongoing dredging and removal of water hyacinths stocked along the banks of Rio Grande de Mindanao River.

Some 3,271 evacuees are housed at the Norte Dame Village Elementary School evacuation center.

The NDRRMC reported to the President that 48 municipalities including 5 cities, and some 395 barangays in four regions in Mindanao have been affected by flashfloods.

The NDRRMC also informed the President that as of June 15, 2011, at least 7,025 hectares of agricultural crops have been damaged in Region 12 while in Maguindanao more or less 5,391 hectares of agricultural crops were totally destroyed by floods.

In Cotabato City, the Office of Social Welfare and Development reported that 26 barangays, 3,965 families (12,297 individuals) are displaced by floods and they are now presently sheltered in 16 evacuation centers while in Maguindanao some 17 towns are affected with 53,188 families (394,261 individuals) are homeless. (PCOO)

Aquino unfazed by survey results

President Benigno Aquino III is not bothered by the recent survey results on his popularity believing the Filipino people is behind him in carrying out reforms in the government, Presidential Communication Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma said on Wednesday.

Coloma described the President as “resilient and strong” in facing problems and challenges such as the recent survey results.

“Matatag na matatag at napakatibay. Sapagkat para sa ating pangulo ang pinakamahalaga ay iyong pagtitiwala ng ating mga kababayan na iginawad sa kanya nang siya ay inihalal bilang pangulo,” Coloma said in response to a question propounded to him by a listener during the Barangay PBS program aired Wednesday over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

“Ang paghalal sa kanya ay para sa isang buong termino na anim na taon. Hindi naman niya ipinangako na lahat ng problema ay malulutas sa loob lamang na ilang buwan o isang taon,” Coloma added.

While the Aquino administration faces challenges, some simple and some difficult, Coloma said the president and his administration continue to work to realize the dream of every Filipino--to attain a better life.

“Yan po ang batayan ng ating pangulo sa kanyang pamumuno na nagtitiwala ang ating mga kababayan na siya ay tapat sa tungkulin, hindi siya nagnanakaw, hindi siya corrupt, at sinsero ang kanyang pagnanasa na maglingkod sa bayan. Yan po ang giya na gumagabay sa kanya sa araw-araw na pamumuno sa ating bansa,” Coloma said.

With less than two weeks before the end of his first year in office, the President’s satisfaction rating slightly dropped based on the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.

In a separate Pulse Asia Ulat ng Bayan Survey, President Aquino’s performance and trust ratings remained at near-historical highs as both recorded numbers at 71 percentage points for the survey period of May 21 to June 4, 2011.

“Given the margin of error of +/-3 percentage points, the President’s performance rating of 71 percentage points remains statistically unchanged from the previous rating of 74 percentage points recorded in March. An incremental decrease from a trust rating of 75 percentage points in March to 71 during the latest survey period was also reflected in the survey,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a statement on Wednesday. (PCOO)

Good economic management pushes overall investments up, says Coloma

The increase in the country’s overall investment is a result of good stewardship of the economic managers of the Aquino administration, Secretary Herminio Coloma of the Presidential Communication Operations Office said.

During the Barangay PBS program aired over government run radio station dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Wedesday, Coloma said there are many aspects of knowing the economic status of a country and one of these is the rating being undertaken by investment rating agencies.

He noted that almost all of the leading rating agencies have adjusted their ratings for the Philippines obviously as a result of good economic management of the Aquino administration and the continuing confidence of investors for the Philippines.

“Lahat naman nitong mga rating agencies ay binago na iyung ratings nila pataas at ngayon lamang natamo ang kasing-taas na rating na nagpapahiwatig lamang na malaki ang kumpiyansa ng mga mamumuhunan, mga mangangalakal at ng finance and investment communities dahil bilib sila sa kalidad ng economic management at political leadership dito sa ating bansa,” Coloma said.

In an article, former Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Ceilito Habito said that despite the significant drop in foreign direct investment in the country, its foreign investment approval increased as well as other aspects like public investment with the overall investments reaching 37 percent because of the growth in private and domestic investments. (PCOO)

Aquino to convene LEDAC next month

President Benigno S. Aquino is set to convene the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) next month in line with his directive to push for the passage of more legislative measures for the benefit of the Filipino people.

During a regular news briefing at Malacanang on Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the LEDAC is set to hold a meeting on July 12.

Following the signing into law of four legislative measures in the fields of energy, labor and health care that impact on the social reform agenda of the Aquino administration, the Chief Executive wanted to push more legislative measures to improve the socio-economic conditions of the people.

Lacierda stressed that the President signed the four measures on energy, labor and healthcare into law, saying that these will provide more opportunities for concrete, dynamic development across the nation.

Among the priority bills discussed last February include the proposed creation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the amendments to the National Health Insurance Act, the postponement of elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the proposed reorganization of the National Food Authority (NFA), among others.

Last June 6, Aquino signed into law Republic Act 10149 or the Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCC) Governance Act of 2011 that aims to promote financial viability and fiscal discipline in GOCCs and strengthen the role of the State in its governance and management to make them more responsive to the needs of the Filipino people.

Lacierda noted that the Aquino administration is looking forward to further working in solidarity with Congress as part of the service to the countrymen.

“We are heartened by the hard work of our allies in the Senate and the House of Representatives, especially their leadership under Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Sonny Belmonte. We look forward to further working in solidarity with them, in service to our countrymen,” he said.

Created in 1992, the LEDAC has as regular members the President as chairman, the Vice President, the Senate President, the House Speaker, seven Cabinet members, three senators, three House members, and one representative each from the local government, the youth, and the private sector. (PCOO)

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

PIA Dispatch - Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Aquino signs into law 4 new legislative measures in energy, labor and health care

President Benigno S. Aquino III signed into law four measures in the fields of energy, labor and health care that impact on the social reform agenda of the Aquino administration.

In his speech during the signing ceremonies at the Rizal Hall of Malacanang Palace on Tuesday, the President said that the four new pieces of legislation symbolize the beginning of even more work, more night of discussions and arguments, more programs and support legislation to be instituted and passed all for the benefit of the people.

“These bills are only part of the foundation of the Philippines we want to build… I know these issues are only few problems out of the many, but they serve as reminders of the small road bumps we will undoubtedly encounter as we tread the straight path for the next five, ten or even twenty years,” the President said.

The four new measures include Republic Act (RA) 10150, an act that provides a ten-year extension of the lifeline rate implementation under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) as a socialized pricing mechanism that benefits the marginalized end-users of electricity.

RA 10150 was authored by House Representatives Henedina Abad, Rufus Rodriguez and Ben Evardone, while in the Senate it was pushed by Senators Francis Escudero, Sergio Osmena III and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

“The extension of this measure will allow the less fortunate among us to put more of their resources into feeding themselves or into saving enough to pay hospitals or medicine bills. In short, extending this lifeline rate allows those shackled by poverty to focus more of their resources into keeping themselves and their families alive while giving them access to electricity,” President Aquino stressed.

Also signed into law is Joint Resolution No. 1 – seeking a ten-year extension for the Joint Congressional Power Commission (JCPC) in order to ensure the continuous exercise of its oversight function towards the full realization of the objectives and goals of the EPIRA and the Renewable Energy Act.

This was authored by Representatives Arnulfo Fuentebella and Henedina Abad in Congress with Senators Sergio Osmena III and Francis Escudero in the Senate.

“The JCPC was tasked to make sure that reforms took place and to foster an environment for healthy competition in the sector,” the President said.

The Chief Executive also affixed his signature to Republic Act 10151, an Act allowing the employment of night workers thereby repealing articles 130 and 131 of Presidential Decree (PD) Number 442, as amended, otherwise known as the Labor Code of the Philippines. It will also ensure mandatory provision of ample health and social services as well as commensurate compensation for night-shift workers.

RA 10151 was classified as a priority bill in the last Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).

President Aquino thanked Representatives Rufus Rodriguez and Emil Ong from Congress for the new measure and Senators Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada and Francis Pangilinan of the Senate.

“The signing of this act is also an economic measure because many women in the BPO sector have been unduly prejudiced by this legal accident. We must also do everything we can to protect our position as industry leaders.” the President said.

Last to be signed by the President was Republic Act 10152 or the act providing for mandatory basic immunization services for infants and children repealing for the purpose Presidential Decree No. 996, as amended.

This law requires mandatory Hepatitis-B immunization for infants within 24 hours of birth. The President cited the ill effects of the dreaded disease adding that it can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer, among others.

“It is not fair that the vaccine against Hepatitis-B can only be afforded by a privileged few. We are doing this to give these children and their families more access to health care, which the more privileged among us often take for granted,” President Aquino noted.

The law was authored by Representatives Susan Yap and Joseph Emilio Abaya as well as Senator Pia Cayetano and Francis Escudero.

The President also said that the signing of the four new laws will not automatically eradicate poverty and inequality altogether – but in small ways, the measures will make the lives of the Filipino people better. (PCOO)

Aquino assures foreign business community reasonable and sound projects will continue

President Benigno Aquino III assured foreign business community Tuesday government projects that are reasonable and with economic benefits to the Filipino people will not be scrapped.

The European Chamber of Commerce earlier voiced its concern saying that foreign investors were wary with policy changes that come with the new administration. They were asking for assurance that government will not carry out major policy changes in the long term.

“I will ask the Secretary of Foreign Affairs to contact these foreign businesses and to assure them, that projects that are reasonable, that are sound, that have economic benefits and of value to our people, we will continue,” the President told reporters at the sidelines of the signing of several legislative measures in Malacanang.

He noted that if these projects are based on a faulty premise, the government will not allow it to continue.

The President mentioned the case of the Laguna Lake dredging project, where the government would spend P18 billion for a project that wouldn’t have much benefit especially to the lake shore communities.

“I think, it is unarguable that their proposal to remove 12 million cubic meters and dumping it also within the same lake does not redound to an improvement of the water quality there… it shouldn’t cost the Filipino people P18.7 billion.”

The perception of instability in forging business contracts in the Philippines is a major issue that holds back foreign investors from pouring in money in the Philippines, according to the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines.

Hubert d’Aboville, president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, said that businessmen often mention their concern for policy changes that new administrations undertake, which affect existing businesses. (PCOO)

Aquino to visit victims of massive floodings in Maguindanao

COTABATO CITY: President Benigno S. Aquino III will visit this city Wednesday to personally check on the welfare of flashflood victims and to inspect the ongoing dredging operations at the Rio Grande de Mindanao River.

Upon arrival, the President will conduct an aerial inspection and to visit Delta Bridge to oversee the dredging operations and to distribute some assorted food packs to flashflood victims.

Recently, the President ordered the Department of Social Welfare and Development and all concerned government agencies to take care the needs of the people affected by calamities.

Two weeks ago, parts of Central Mindanao were simultaneously inundated with heavy rains that caused flashfloods due to the build-up of water hyacinths on Delta Bridge.

The build-up caused Rio Grande de Mindanao River to flow into the lower portions of Barangays Bulibod, Salimbao, Poblacion 1.

As a result, thousands of residents were displaced due to flashfloods caused by continuous rains and the swelling of the Rio Grande de Mindanao and its tributaries, Liguasan and Libungan Marshes.

According to the DSWD, as of 3 p.m. on Sunday, the number of people affected by the floods reached 962,591.

To date, the government has already spent P12 million for the operations, of which P7 million came from the DSWD national and P1 million from DSWD-ARMM. The local government units also chipped in P3.45-million and about P350,000 came from non-government organizations.

More than 200 schools in Cotabato City and in the first and second districts of Maguindanao and in North Cotabato’s adjoining Aleosan, Pikit and Midsayap towns, remain suspended due to flooding. (PCOO)

PIA Dispatch - Monday, June 20, 2011

Aquino not keen on lifting state of emergency in Maguindanao

President Benigno S. Aquino III sees no need to lift the declaration putting Maguindanao province under a state of emergency following the massacre of 57 people including 32 journalists in November 2009, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ramon “Ricky” Carandang said.

In a press briefing in Malacañang on Monday, Carandang said feedback from the consultations undertaken with concerned local government units found that people living in the area “wanted” the state of emergency to be implemented further.

“Based on consultations with concerned LGUs in Maguindanao, mukhang mas gusto nilang mapanatili ang state of emergency sa ngayon because there are still some armed groups roaming around, the situation is not completely under control,” Carandang said.

“Nonetheless, we have been undertaking consultations with concerned LGUs and when they see and feel it is time to lift the State of Emergency, gagawin natin yun, pero sa ngayon ang feedback sa amin ay mas gusto nilang manatili ang State of Emergency doon,” he added.

Former President and now Representative of the 2nd District of Pamapanga Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Proclamation 1946 putting Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat provinces and Cotabato City under a State of Emergency a day after what is now referred to as the “Maguindanao massacre.”

The proclamation, which is still in effect today, intends to "prevent and suppress the occurrence of several other incidents of lawless violence." (PCOO)

Aquino declares the years 2011-2016 as Pinoy Homecoming Years

President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared the years 2011 to 2016 as the Pinoy Homecoming Years to encourage more Balikbayans to visit the Philippines.

By virtue of Proclamation No. 181 signed on June 3, 2011 by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr., the President underscored the need for a special campaign, which he said, should be developed and implemented to address the specific travel needs and interests of this particular market segment, especially the overseas Filipino organizations and business groups, that will be the main driving force that will encourage them to travel to the Philippines for reunions, conferences, missions or vacations.

He said the campaign will reinforce Republic Act No. 6768, as amended, entitled “An Act Instituting a Balikbayan Program,” by providing benefits and privileges to Balikbayans and for other purposes.”

According to the President, the global economic recession calls for accelerated economic development through a more vigorous and focused effort to improve the country’s tourism industry by maximizing the benefits derived from tourism-related activities.

Apart from the traditional tourism source markets overseas, the President said alternative market sources or segments with huge potentials to supply a greater volume of visitors to the Philippines should be targeted and built as additional sources for tourist arrivals.

“Overseas Filipinos, or the Balikbayan market, have historically contributed to Philippine visitor arrivals and to the Philippine economy in terms of foreign exchange inflow and the revenues that they generate,” he said.

“Focusing on the huge Balikbayan segment, which is rapidly growing due to the continued migration of Filipinos abroad and the significant expansion of the second and third generation Filipinos abroad, is crucial in maximizing revenues that can be generated from this particular visitor group,” the President added.

President Aquino authorized the Secretary of Tourism to call upon any department, agency, office or corporation of the government to assist in the pursuit of the objectives of this Proclamation.

He also enjoined the private sector stakeholders in the tourism industry to come up with appropriate activities that would help the government in achieving and sustaining the objectives of the Pinoy Homecoming Years. (PCOO)

PIA Dispatch - Sunday, June 19, 2011

Emulate Rizal's heroism Aquino urges Filipinos

CALAMBA, Laguna – President Benigno S. Aquino III urged Filipinos to emulate the heroism of Jose Rizal whose supreme sacrifice paved the way for the freedom we enjoy today.

In his speech keynoting the celebration of the national hero’s 150th birthday here, the President praised Rizal for choosing to do the right thing instead of looking the other way.

He said Rizal could’ve used his wealth and education to become rich and marry any girl he fancied but instead chose to correct the injustices made to the motherland.

“Humarap din sa sangandaan si Rizal: sa isang banda, maaari niyang huwag pansinin ang mga nangyayari sa kaniyang paligid. Pwede niyang gamitin ang mga pinag-aralan niya sa iba’t ibang pamantasan sa Maynila at sa ibang bansa para magpayaman at maghanap ng magandang mapapangasawa. Maaari siyang magpatangay na lamang sa agos ng baluktot na sistema, at kahit pa alam niyang mali, ay makipagplastikan na lang sa mga prayle tuwing may handaan,” the President said.

“At sa sunud-sunod na pagharap niya sa sangandaan—mula sa pagkabinatang pinagkaitan ng ilang karangalan, hanggang sa pagkabayaning tinawag na mag-alay ng buhay para sa bayan—hindi naligaw si Rizal mula sa tuwid na daan,” he added.

The President said that the dilemmas that Rizal faced in his time was not far from the dilemmas Filipinos face today such as: “choosing to use the overpass or just jaywalk, to pay the correct taxes or not, or choose to right a wrong or look away.”

“Hindi po lahat ay pinapalad na tawagin upang magbuwis ng buhay para sa bayan. Subalit para sa nakararami, nasusukat ang pagkabayani sa araw-araw nating pagharap sa maliliit na sangandaan: Ang pagsunod sa batas, ang paggalang sa kapwa, ang paggawa ng tama sa sinumpaan nating mga tungkulin,at ang manindigan sa ating prinsipyo,” thePresident said.

He said this has been the driving force to get up every morning and complete the job of running a country.

“Nagtatrabaho tayo para sa bata sa lansangan na kayang maghibla ng isang kuwintas ng sampaguita, ngunit ni hindi pa nakakatapak sa loob ng eskuwela,” the President said.

“Nagtatrabaho tayo dahil sa isang malayong baryo, sa isang maliit na isla ng Pilipinas, maaaring may sanggol na magiging tulad ni Rizal: tapat ang puso, walang-kapantay ang talino, walang-hanggan ang malasakit sa kapwa, at may wagas na pag-ibig sa bayan,” he added.

“Nagtatrabaho po tayo upang wala nang Pilipino angkailangan pang magbuwis ng buhay para sa kapakanan ng mga susunod sa kanya,” the President said. (PCOO)

Aquino unveils tallest Rizal Monument

CALAMBA, Laguna – President Benigno S. Aquino III unveiled the tallest statue of national hero Jose Rizal in ceremonies commemorating his 150thbirth anniversary here Sunday.

The President, who was joined by Calamba City Mayor Joaquin Chipeco, National Historical Commission of the Philippines Chairman Maria Serena Diokno, Laguna Governor Emilio Ramon Ejercito, Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Eduardo Oban and local officials, led the unveiling of the22-foot new Jose Rizal monument erected on a 6.7-hectare property in front of the Calamba City Hall complex.

The bronze statue, which began construction on December 2010, was designed and created by renowned sculptor Jonas Roces of Marikina.

Prior to the unveiling, the President was presented with five commemorative tokens for the sesquicentennial of Jose Rizal: 1) a certificate of restoration of the Noli Me Tangere by German ambassador to the Philippines Christian Ludwig Weber Lorssch; 2) the e-Rizal tablet from Laguna gov Ejercito; 3) a Rizal at 150 Commemorative Medal from Central Bank governor Amado Tetangco, Jr.; 4) a Rizal at 150 Commemorative Stamp from Post Master General Antonio De Guzman; and 5) a Book on the Lineage, Life and Labors of Jose Rizal by Tulay Foundation chairman Manuel Chua.

Earlier, the President led flag-raising ceremonies at the Rizal ancestral home compound here to formally kick-off the celebrations.

He then led a wreath-laying ceremony at the foot of a bronze sculpture of Rizal as a boy.

A 21-gun salute honoring Rizal was then accorded by members of the Presidential Security Group. (PCOO)

PIA Dispatch - Saturday, June 18, 2011

Aquino to lead commemoration of Rizal’s 150th birth anniversary

President Benigno S. Aquino III will lead the country in celebrating Jose Rizal’s 150th birth anniversary during the Chief Executive’s visit to the National Hero’s birthplace in Calamba, Laguna on Sunday, June 19.

The President is set to unveil what is touted to be the tallest statue of Rizal in honor of the hero’s supreme sacrifice for the Filipino.

The said monument, which stands 22 feet tall on a 6.7-hectare property in front of Calamba City Hall complex, represents the 22 different languages used by Rizal, such as English, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian and Spanish.

The new Rizal monument is expected to be the newest tourist and historical landmark, not only in Calamba, but in the whole world. With this as the tallest statue of the hero on record, it will very well be the newest pilgrim site for people honoring Rizal around the world.

The construction of Rizal’s tallest monument, which was made possible through the coordination between the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and the Calamba local government, is only one of the activities in celebrating his 150th birthday. (PCOO)

Palace welcomes WTO ruling on Philippine tobacco case vs Thailand

Malacanang expressed elation over the decision made by the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Friday favoring the Philippines in a cigarette export case filed against Thailand noting that the ruling will level the trade playing field between the two countries.

In an interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Palace welcomed the decision hoping that it would benefit Filipino tobacco farmers.

The case stemmed from the allegations of the Philippines that Thailand carried out unfair trading practice. The Philippines requested a consultation in the WTO in February 2008 against Thailand regarding the Philippine cigarette exports.

The Philippines said a number of Thailand’s fiscal and customs measures were affecting cigarettes from the Philippines, as Thailand's customs valuation practices, excise tax, health tax, TV tax, value added tax (VAT) regime, retail licensing requirements and import guarantees imposed upon cigarette importers.

The Philippines claims that Thailand administers these measures in a partial and unreasonable manner and thereby violates the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994.

The Philippines also raised Thailand's dual license requirement that requires tobacco and cigarette retailers hold separate licenses to sell domestic and imported cigarettes contradicting GATT 1994.

The Philippines also told the WTO that Thailand's ad valorem excise tax, health tax and TV tax, on both imported and domestic cigarettes, are inconsistent with GATT 1994 which requires the publication of trade laws and regulations of general application.

In February 2008, the European Communities requested to join the consultations and in September that year, the Philippines requested the establishment of a panel.

The WTO Dispute Settlement Body released on November 15, 2010, its official report findings in favor of the Philippines, “that Thailand acted inconsistently with WTO rules in valuing Philippine cigarette exports for customs purposes and in failing to treat imported cigarettes the same way as locally-manufactured cigarettes.”

The WTO directed the Thailand government to “bring its inconsistent measures into conformity with its WTO obligations.” (PCOO)

Malacanang says Executive Secretary can handle Anti-Organized Crime Commission well

The Palace made an assurance Saturday that Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa can effectively lead the re-organized Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) despite having other obligations.

Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte assured the public in an interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday that Ochoa can still handle the PAOCC well while also serving as the executive secretary. She said Ochoa is competent to handle the job.

President Benigno Aquino III signed Executive Order (EO) 46 on June 13 amending Executive Order 8 (signed 1998), to further strengthen and organize the PAOCC.

The EO recognizes the need for an "unwavering campaign to eradicate organized crime, along with graft and corruption." The President designated the executive secretary as the chairman of PAOCC.

Being the PAOCC chairman, the President authorizes Ochoa to issue the Implementing Rules and Regulations to implement the order.

Valet added that according to Ochoa the reorganization is just a restructuring and will focus more on putting things in order under one commission head. At the same time Valte said Ochoa will be supported by other officials from the Office of the President (OP).

The President re-organized the PAOCC to put more teeth on the government’s fight against offenses such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, carjacking, gunrunning, robbery/hold-up, kidnapping for ransom, smuggling and transnational crimes.

The members of PAOCC will be the Secretary of the Interior and Local Government, Secretary of Justice, Secretary of National Defense, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, National Security Adviser, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff, Philippine National Police Director General, National Intelligence Coordination Agency Director General, National Bureau of Investigation Director and the Philippine Center for Transnational Crime (PCTC) Executive Director. (PCOO)

Aquino keynotes 57th Liberal International Congress

President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Saturday that the market might be used as a plow to cultivate the fields of social justice for the greater good of the people.

In his speech keynoting the 57th Liberal International Congress at Rizal Ceremonial Hall, Malacanang on Saturday, President Aquino said: “This is also why this Congress has chosen to locate Human Rights as parallel to Free Trade in the articulation of our theme --- because we believe that the latter must be pursued to ensure that the former is upheld.”

The 4-day event dubbed as the 57th Liberal International Congress on Human Rights and Trade started last June 17, 2011 and would end on June 20, is being hosted by the Liberal Party of the Philippines.

President Aquino, as chairperson of the Liberal Party (LP) of the Philippines, led the gathering of at least 200 high-ranking Liberals from all corners of the world.

“As I have mentioned once before, governments must ensure direction, so that the market might be used as a plow to cultivate the fields of social justice. In rhetorical terms, how can an individual enjoy the rights he has on paper, when from birth he has been denied the tools to take his destiny into his own hands?” the President said.

While his government’s policies are in response to the needs of the people, President Aquino said the policies are also firmly in keeping with principles first laid down by his party--- the Liberal Party of the Philippines--- that was founded in 1946.

“In essence, it is also what has called our people to rally along the “tuwid na daan”—the straight and righteous path. It is also what binds us all as Liberals, even in this so-called post-ideological century of ours: the respect for the individual’s rights and freedoms; the commitment to make growth inclusive and equitable, so that every man and woman may have the means to fulfill their fullest potential; and the unwavering compassion for those with little means to pursue their dreams,” he said.

“We continue to be guided by these principles in every aspect of governance.” He stressed. “Whether it was in my appeal to the Supreme Court to permit the Maguindanao Massacre trial to be televised, so our people may have an opportunity to witness justice served, and to understand the causes of impunity in our country; or whether it was in my pursuing a pocket open skies policy as part of our liberalization and deregulation efforts; or even in my recent signing of Executive Order 45, which allows our Department of Justice to take legal action in the case of monopolies and cartels—what we are pursuing are these broad things, unbound by narrow-minded dogma, but consistent with our obligation to pursue the greater good.”

“When I announced my candidacy for the presidency, I said my job is about the efficient allocation of resources. We made zero-based budgeting the basis of all our public spending. We refused to accept previous assumptions and went back to basics,”

“We also felt that only through a thorough reexamination of contracts and expenditures could we achieve the fiscal prudence that has allowed us, in April, to record our highest monthly surplus in 25 years. In turn, this has allowed us to ensure that we will have adequate resources for the administration of justice as well as programs such as conditional cash transfers for the poor,” he said.

The President also said the Liberals will continue to rise to the challenges they are facing as he pledged his support to the ultimate flourishing and concretization of their principles as liberals around the globe.

Officials of the Liberal International (LI), Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD) and Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) paid a courtesy call on President Aquino on Saturday in Malacanang.

The Liberal Party of the Philippines hosted the 57th Liberal International Congress, a 4-day event from June 17 to 20. It is the very first LI Congress to be held in Asia. The 56th LI Congress was previously held in Cairo, Egypt while the 55th, took place in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Former Senator and incoming Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Mar Roxas II, who is the president of LP-Philippines, delivered the welcome remarks. (PCOO)

PIA Dispatch - Friday, June 17, 2011

Aquino receives Philippine Development Foundation Multisectoral Alliance for Science and Technology Steering Committee in Malacanang

The Philippine Development Foundation (PhilDev) Multisectoral Alliance for Science and Technology Steering Committee paid a courtesy call on President Benigno Aquino III on Friday in Malacanang.

PhilDev officials who made the call were Victoria Garchitorena, PhilDev president; Winston Damarillo, PhilDev trustee; Diosdado Banatao, founder and managing partner, Tallwood Venture Capital; Ed Chua, Pilipinas Shell president; and Lheila Lirio Marcelo, chief operating officer, Care Com.

The government officials who joined the President were Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo, and Education Secretary Armin Luistro.

PhilDev, formerly Ayala Foundation USA, is a public charity registered with the United States Internal Revenue Service tax-exempt organization. The organization focuses on building an ecosystem of science and technology-based entrepreneurship and innovation for social and economic development in the Philippines.

As part of PhilDev’s commitment to philanthropy, it also generates resources from U.S.-based donors for non-profit organizations in the Philippines.

The organization envisions globally competitive technology products and services from the Philippines driven by innovative entrepreneurs focused on growth and job creation. It also wants to attain a sustainable and globally-competitive Philippine economy by developing programs in science, technology as well as entrepreneurship.

Last year, PhilDev reported that for the last ten years, it rallied Filipino-Americans to support significant social development projects in the Philippines.

Since its inception, PhilDev said it has raised more than $9 million for over 150 non-profit organizations implementing projects on education, health, enterprise development, environment, and pastoral ministries, projects for women and children and persons with disabilities. (PCOO)

Malacanang welcomes decision of regional trial court dismissing a petition filed against APO

Malacanang welcomed the decision issued by a regional trial court dismissing a petition filed against a government-recognized printing company noting that the ruling allows printing works to continue unhampered.

Judge Evangeline C. Castillo-Marigo-men of Branch 101, Regional Trial Court in Quezon City dismissed the petition filed by a certain Richard Oderon on June 15 asking the court to halt the operations of APO Production Unit (APO)

The judge has thrown out the petition for a temporary restraining order against the APO after she found the petition baseless and without merit.

In a statement, Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma said the ruling favors the government because printing works could continue.

“We are pleased that the court did not give due course to the petition as this would have hampered APO’s operations as a recognized government printer serving the needs of the national government and local government units,” Coloma said.

APO and National Printing Office (NPO) are both attached agencies of the PCOO.

Coloma said that in the recently enacted GOCC Governance Act, APO Production Unit Inc. was recognized as a “government entity with corporate powers.”

Oderon, an employee of NPO, who represented himself as a taxpayer and not as an NPO employee in filing the petition, claimed that the continuing operation of APO puts Filipino taxpayers at the losing end. APO prints security and accountable forms for government.

A smear campaign, allegedly financed by a consortium of private printers and big paper suppliers of the NPO, was reportedly launched against APO. These consortium and suppliers were hurt by the reforms being carried out by the Aquino administration.

NPO has been outsourcing its printing needs for years because of the lack of machines capable of printing government forms.

Malacanang assures public of safety, says intelligence report of possible terror attack in Metro Manila was raw and unconfirmed

Malacanang assured the safety of the public, saying the intelligence reports indicating a possible terrorist plot in Manila was raw and unconfirmed.

“The intelligence report indicating possible terror activity on June 12 was raw and unconfirmed, and is just one of many such reports received by the government on a regular basis,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a statement issued on Friday at Malacanang.

Philippine authorities earlier validated intelligence reports that a top Asian terror suspect and the notorious Abu Sayyaf extremist group have sent militants to bomb targets in Manila, supposedly on June 12 when the country celebrated its 113th Independence Day. The intelligence reports turned out to be unsubstantiated and no terror attack occurred.

“Be that as it may, our intelligence and law enforcement community has taken measures to validate these reports, preferring to err on the side of caution, he stressed.”

“As such, the current heightened alert in Metro Manila is a preventive measure more than anything else, put in place to monitor the situation so that potential danger to the people might be deterred,” Lacierda said adding that the safety of our citizens remains among the foremost concerns of the government.

Meanwhile, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte told reporters that the public has no reason to worry as security measures are now in place.

While the public is advised to remain vigilant and careful, Valte said: “Lagi po naman naming sinasabi na dapat po patuloy po ang ating pag-iingat, but again let us not let such unconfirmed reports get in the way of our daily activities.”

She said the law enforcement agencies are continuously monitoring and validating reports on possible attacks and taking steps to assure the safety of the public. “As a matter of prudence, these reports are always being validated. At this point, the public has nothing to worry,” she told reporters during the regular news briefing on Friday at Malacanang. (PCOO)

Malacanang orders DSWD and LGU’s to help victims of calamities in Mindanao

Malacanang on Friday ordered all regional offices of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and local government units to provide assistance to thousands victims of calamities in Mindanao.

In a press briefing on Friday at Malacanang, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the National Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) is at the forefront in maximizing all assets and manpower of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) in the evacuation efforts of the affected families.

As of press time, Valte said, the Philippine Navy, Philippine Marines, Philippine army and the PNP are currently conducting forced evacuation in the flooded areas.

“The regional offices of the DSWD and the local government units have already started delivering relief to the affected families and we are continuing to monitor the situation. Nakarating na po ang tulong natin doon sa mga apektadong lugar,” Valte said.

The NDRRMC on Wednesday night pegged the number of persons affected by the flooding in nine Mindanao provinces to more than 600,000. About 12,000 of these individuals have been forced to leave their homes due to the steady rise of floodwaters.

The rains, caused by a low pressure area off eastern Mindanao, directly hit provinces of Bukidnon, Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur. (PCOO)

Aquino receives Nestle officials in Malacanang

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday welcomed in Malacanang visiting two officials of Nestle S.A., one of the leading food and beverage giant in the country, who called on him as part of their routine visit in the Philippines.

The officials who were met by the President at the Yellow Room of the Presidential Guest House were Paul Bulcke, CEO of Nestle S.A. of Switzerland and Fritz Van Dijk, Nestle S.A. executive vice president for Asia, Oceania. Africa and the Middle East.

They were accompanied by John Martin Miller, chair and CEO Nestle Philippines and Edith De Leon, Nestle Philippines senior vice president and head of corporate affairs.

Also present were Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, DOLE acting Secretary Danilo Cruz and DTI Undersecretary Cristino Panlilio.

During the call, Bulcke informed the President of the forthcoming completion of the P5 billion facilities of Nestle Philippines in Tanauan, Batangas to complement their non-dairy coffee creamer manufacturing plant. He hopes that the new facilities on its 27-hectare property would to completed in March next year.

He said once completed, the Tanauan manufacturing plant will generate job opportunities to hundreds up to thousands of individuals.

Currently, Nestle Philippines has P100 billion total investments in the country and employs some 3,300 workers in their factories nationwide. (PCOO)

PIA Dispatch - Thursday, June 16, 2011

Aquino declares June 25 of every year as the day of the Filipino Seafarer

President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared June 25 of every year as the day of the Filipino Seafarer for the invaluable contribution of the seafarers to the country’s national development efforts.

President Aquino issued the Proclamation No. 183 to give respect, recognition and gratitude to the Filipino seafarers who have become “sailing ambassadors” of the country for having demonstrated before the global maritime community the best traits of the Filipino.

“The Conference of Parties, under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), that adopted major revisions otherwise known as the “Manila Amendments” to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) for seafarers and its associated Code that was held in Manila from 21-25 June 2010 approved a resolution declaring every 25th Day of June each year as the “Day of the Seafarer,” the proclamation stated which was signed on June 3, 2011 by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr.

The IMO has encouraged governments, shipping organizations, companies, shipowners and all other parties concerned to duly and appropriately promote the Day of the Seafarer and take action to celebrate it meaningfully.

Also, the United Nations Organization (UNO) has recognized the important role that seafarers play in the continued growth of the global economy and in the promotion of safety of life at sea and the protection of the marine environment.

Aquino enjoined all relevant maritime agencies or instrumentalities of the government including government-owned and controlled corporations as well as private individuals or organizations to support the commemoration of this event.

He also directed the Secretary of Transportation and Communications through the Administrator of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to lead the observance of the Day of the Filipino Seafarer.

Aquino also authorized the MARINA, consistent with its mandate as the Flag State Administration of the country, to create a Steering Committee, a Working Group and a Secretariat composed of representatives from various agencies and organizations to lead efforts in the commemoration of this said event. (PCOO)

Malacanang welcomes labor forces survey indicating decrease in unemployment rate

Malacanang welcomed the 2011 Labor Force Survey of the National Statistics Office (NSO) indicating that the unemployment rate in the Philippines decreased from 8.0% to 7.2% in the period between April 2010 and April 2011 saying that it is proof of the Aquino government’s continued fulfillment of its Social Contract with the Filipino people.

In his official statement issued on Thursday, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the decrease of unemployment rate is a collective achievement of the different sectors and stakeholders of the government and the Filipino people.

“The future promises even more reason for optimism, as we are paving the way for the influx of investments by improving the quality of spending (of government resources) to focus more on activities that will generate jobs,” said Lacierda.

He stressed that the administration remain confident of the “continued growth in the business sector and further good news not only in terms of employment but also in our efforts toward education and decreasing inequality through our conditional cash transfer programs.”

Lacierda said the holistic approach to overcoming long-standing challenges has been the hallmark of the Aquino administration. “Our efforts will remain diligent, thorough and motivated,” he added.

According to the April 2011 Labor Force Survey, the country's employment rate improved by 0.8 percentage point to 92.8 percent from 92 percent in April last year.

"A total of 2.9 million persons were unemployed in April 2011, placing the unemployment rate at 7.2 percent, down from 8 percent recorded for the same period last year," the NSO said. (PCOO)

Aquino cites role of education in nation-building

President Benigno S. Aquino III underscored the relevant role of education as a foundation in nation-building as he congratulates the students, faculty, alumni and officials of De La Salle University (DLSU) on its 100th founding anniversary.

In keynoting the DLSU’s Centennial Celebration at the Chapel of the Most Blessed Sacrament, St. La Salle Hall, DLSU along Taft Avenue in Manila on Thursday, President Aquino cited the school’s commitment in providing quality education that serves as an important tool in producing the builders and providers of a brighter future.

“Sa loob ng sandaang taon, nagsilbing lunsaran ng husay at talino ang De La Salle University… patuloy ninyong hinuhubog ang maraming Pilipino upang magtagumpay hindi lamang sa kanilang piniling propesyon at ibat-ibang larangan, kundi maging sa anumang hamon na maaari nilang makaharap sa buhay,” the President said.

“Ang mahabang tradisyon ng mataas na kaledad ng edukasyon mula sa DLSU ay nagbubukal sa inyong hangarin na paglingkuran ang kapwa at mag-ambag para sa kapakanan ng bansa…,” he added.

As proof, the Chief Executive cited some members of his cabinet who are alumni of the De La Salle University, who he said, are his allies in ensuring the delivery of services to the Filipino people.

“Kaya naman ngayon, marami sa ating kabalikat sa pagtitimon ng bayan ay produkto ng La Salle,” President Aquino said.

Among the incumbent officials produced by the DLSU educational system include Education Secretary Armin Luistro, who was the former president of the university, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, Agrarian Reform Secretary Gil Delos Reyes, Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo and National Economic Development Authority Director General Cayetano Paderanga Jr.,

“Patunay lamang ang mahabang hanay ng inyong magigiting na alumni sa hindi matatawarang dedikasyon na ibinubuhos ng De La Salle University para gabayan ang mga La Sallista tungo sa mas maunlad at kapaki-pakinabang na kinabukasan,” the President said.

DLSU was also a significant part of the country’s historical events, specifically in safeguarding the truth behind the “Hello Garci” scandal and the NBN-ZTE deal.

President Aquino expressed sincere gratitude to the DLSU for serving as shelter to the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) since 1984.

DLSU also provided the St. Benilde gymnasium as venue for the necrological services for the President’s mother, former President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino in 2009.

“Maraming salamat sa inyong dasal at pakikiramay nang nagluluksa ang aming pamilya kasama na ang buong bansa dahil sa paglisan ng aming pinakamamahal na ina… dinamayan ninyo ang isang bansang nangulila at muling pinatuloy ang taumbayan sa St. Benilde gym upang sa huling pagkakataon ay masilayan ang Ina ng Demokrasya,” the President said.

Also in attendance at the St. La Salle Hall Thursday include Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares, Secretary Luistro, Secretary Lacierda, Presidential Deputy Spokesperson Abigail Valte, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Presidential Sister Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, and former Senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr., among others. (PCOO)

Aquino cites role of Court of Tax Appeals in tax collection/fight against graft and corruption

President Benigno S. Aquino III underscored the importance of role played by the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) in its efficient tax collection efforts and in fighting graft and corruption.

“Mahalagang papel ang ginagampanan ng Court of Tax Appeals upang hindi na maulit pa ang kapabayaan ng nakaraang dekada,” the President said in his speech on Thursday during the 57th foundation anniversary of CTA in Quezon City.

“Kaya talaga pong sa dulo para magkaroon ng pagbabago talagang malaki ang nakasalalay sa inyong [CTA] mga kamay,” he stressed.

The President said that the system under the previous administration was marred by corruption and bribery at the expense of the Filipino people especially the poor.

He noted that prosecution of violators is snail-paced adding that the system in the past encouraged more people and entities not to pay right taxes to the detriment of the people.

If the people pay right taxes, the country could easily attain progress, President said. Cheating and non-payments of right taxes impact on education, health care, and peace and security of the country, he said.

However, the President said that there is hope with the assumption of the new government.

“Buhat po nang tahakin natin ang tuwid na landas marami na po tayong naaninag na pagbabago sa ating bansa. Sa pinagsamang lakas at pinagbuting kakayahan ng Court of Tax Appeals at ng mga kabalikat nitong ahensya naipatupad na natin ang mga hakbanging nakakatulong sa makatarungan at mabilis na pagdinig sa mga kaso ng pagbabayad ng buwis,” he said.

According to the President, CTA’s foundation anniversary was also held in recognition of its expanded mandate in administering justice concerning taxes in the country, President Aquino said adding that with its expanded jurisdiction it’s a signal of more responsibility to serve the country effectively.

The passage of R.A. 9282 that took effect on April 23, 2004, expanded the jurisdiction of the CTA, by amending certain sections of R.A. 1125, the “Law Creating the Court of Tax Appeals”.

The President said that his administration continues to carry out the Run after Tax Evaders of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Run after the Smugglers of Bureau of Customs to investigate corruptions in Finance Department and its attached agencies.

If the government can fix problems in taxation, it can collect enough or more funds for its projects that can benefit the people, he added.

He also reported that the BIR has filed more than 50 tax-related cases with a total taxable amount of P230 billion.

If the government can collect that amount, it’s sufficient to fund its conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, he said.

But the President acknowledged that filing charges is just one step in the government’s fight against tax evasion. He said that punishing violators is a way to show the administration’s resolve in fighting corruption.

“Kung merong nagkasala ay conviction ang inaasahan natin para naman seryusohin na itong gobyerno ay talagang nagpapatupad ng batas at hindi isang gobyerno na puro palakasan at palusutan ang nangyayari,” he said.

Other government officials who joined the President during the event were Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, BIR chief Kim Henares, Commission on Audit chief Ma. Gracia Pulido Tan, Acting Ombudsman Orlando Casimero and COA Commissioner Heidi Mendoza. (PCOO)

Philippines’ new disaster management framework unveiled

The Aquino administration on Thursday unveiled a new disaster management policy document that will provide an effective foundation in dealing with disasters while minimizing their impact on the growth potential of the country.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRM) Framework is a product of months of consultation among stakeholders in disaster management, pursuant to Republic Act 10121, or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, which calls for the implementation of a comprehensive management approach at all levels to cut down the socio-economic and environmental costs of disasters.

“We mark another milestone in the series of vital documents dedicated to reduce impact of disasters,” Ochoa said in his speech delivered during the signing ceremony held at the Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

“This is an inspiring document that will strengthen the unity and resolve of communities to defend themselves from disasters. And this is a forceful document that will protect every development gain from risk, shield every growth accomplishment from danger,” Ochoa pointed out.

The framework, he said, is also in line with the 2000 United Nations Millennium Development Goals, the Hyogo Framework for Action of 2005 and the 2009 ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response.

According to the Executive Secretary, the new disaster management framework is an immediate shift from the traditional top-down and centralized management effort to bottom-up approach that is community-driven.

“A purely physical approach to disaster risk reduction will fail without considering the collective will of communities to reduce their own vulnerable points,” said Ochoa, who chairs the Cabinet Security, Justice, and Peace cluster and is a member of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Ochoa said the new framework includes reducing disaster risks in its greater integrated approach to achieving real social and human development – a sharp departure from the ad hoc disaster response approach of various disaster preparedness teams created in the past.

Recent studies showed that annually, the average direct damages caused by disasters reached as high as P15 billion and typhoons alone hurt the Gross Domestic Product by 0.5 percent, thus setting back development programs and initiatives.

Ochoa cited the devastating 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in Japan last March, which left thousands of people dead and buildings destroyed and a nuclear mess, underscored the need for the Philippines to come up with a broader comprehensive disaster management program given its geography and apparent risk for natural disasters.

“We need to prepare now. Sooner than we expect it, our preparedness as individuals and communities – and as a nation – might be tested by the unforgiving forces of nature. There is little time to prepare – but prepare we must,” Ochoa said.

He said Japan and its people have given the Philippines “an inspiring model on their preparedness to face disaster,” particularly on the “sense of community” that they have shown to the world.

“In our case, we must harness a time-honored value in the Filipino heart. I am referring to the bayanihan spirit. Let this spirit be given full expression in our collective passion and desire to protect ourselves – and then to advance together,” he said.

Ochoa, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Austere Panadero, Social Welfare Assistant Secretary Patricia Luna, Socio-economic Planning Undersecretary Augusto Santos, Science and Technology Undersecretary Graciano Yumul signed the NDRRM Framework.

Also present at the signing ceremony were Office of the Civil Defense Director Ronald Flores and Defense Undersecretaries Benito Ramos and Eduardo Batac. (PCOO)

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

PIA Dispatch - Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Palace formally charges, suspends prosecutor in Garcia plea bargain deal

Malacañang has formally charged and placed under a 90-day preventive suspension Special Prosecutor Wendell Barreras Sulit for graft and betrayal of public trust in connection with the questionable plea bargain deal she had entered into with retired Maj. Gen. Carlos F. Garcia.

In a two-page formal charge signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. and issued on Tuesday, Sulit was suspended for three months to ensure that there will be no tampering with evidence and interference in her investigation.

“Pending investigation of said charges, respondent (Sulit) is hereby placed under preventive suspension for a period of 90 days, effective upon receipt hereof, considering the seriousness of the charges, the existence of prima facie case against respondent that she is probably guilty thereof which warrants her removal from the service and respondent’s continuance in the office may pose threat to the safety and integrity of the record and other evidence,” the Palace stated in the order.

According to the Palace, Sulit violated existing rules and jurisprudence when she “knowingly and willfully” entered into a plea bargain deal with Garcia in the latter’s P303-million plunder case pending before the Sandiganbayan.

The Palace alleged that Sulit, together with her deputies, “impaired deliberately the case for the prosecution by ignoring and abandoning evidence favorable to the interest of the government and presenting evidence adverse to its cause.”

It also alleged that Sulit failed to discharge her mandated duty of prosecuting erring public officials with utmost responsibility, integrity and professional competence.

Sulit was also accused of causing undue injury to the government and gave unwarranted benefits to Garcia through “manifest partiality, evident bad faith and gross inexcusable negligence.”

Malacañang gave Sulit a period of 10 days within which to submit her answer to the formal charge before the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs (ODESLA).

The administrative case against Sulit was an offshoot of an investigation conducted by the House Committee on Justice into the plea bargain agreement between the Office of the Ombudsman and Garcia.

The House panel recommended that Sulit be dismissed from service for culpable violation of the Constitution and betrayal of public trust. (PCOO)

Palace orders top LLDA officials to explain extortion allegation

Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on Wednesday said that top officials of the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) have been ordered to explain why they should not face administrative disciplinary proceedings following allegations of extortion.

Ochoa said a show-cause order had been issued on Monday against LLDA General Manager Rodrigo Cabrera, Engineering Division Chief Donato Rivera Jr. and Lake Management Division Head Jacqueline Dabu based on the accusation of fish pen owner Dr. Charlie Tan that the three tried to extort money from him.

Tan alleged that Cabrera and two other LLDA officials demanded “P300,000.00 in exchange for the approval of his request to transfer the locations of his fish pens” – a violation of the Anti-Graft and Corruption Practices Act (RA 3019) and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (RA 6713).

The three were given five days from the receipt of the show cause order to submit their comment to the Office of the Executive Secretary.

The Office of the President exercises jurisdiction over Cabrera, who is a presidential appointee. Rivera and Dabu, while not presidential appointees, are covered by the order “for having allegedly acted in conspiracy” with Cabrera.

Last Friday, Cabrera took a 60-day leave from office in order to give the Office of the President “a free hand in the conduct of a fair and unprejudiced investigation." (PCOO)

Palace welcomes China’s statement on Spratly row

Malacanang welcomed the recent statement made by the Chinese foreign ministry saying the Chinese government will not resort to the use of force to settle the dispute in the South China Sea.

China on Tuesday vowed not to use force in settling the Spratly issue and called for more dialogue to resolve the long-standing territorial disputes in the area.

“The statement from the Chinese foreign ministry is optimistic. It’s good that we heard them say that they are not going to resort to the use of force. It’s something that we certainly welcome,” Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in the press briefing in Malacanang on Wednesday.

“So at least we have in the region an assurance that no use of force will be necessary to resolve the situation,” Lacierda stressed.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said China hopes other claimant countries will do more for peace and stability in the region.

Tensions between China and other claimants to the South China Sea escalated last week following a war of words. The Philippines and Vietnam in particular have expressed alarm over China’s aggressive actions.

Asked about the plan of US Sen. Jim Webb Jr. to file a bill denouncing China’s behavior in the South China Sea, Lacierda said the Palace will support anything that will lessen the tension and resolve the issue peacefully.

“Anything that will downplay any inflammatory statements is certainly welcome for us. We have always maintained that there should be a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the West Philippines Sea,” he said.

Webb, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on East Asia, urged the US Congress to condemn China’s recent behavior, saying that Washington has to take action on the South China Sea issue.

Aside from China, the Philippines and Vietnam, other claimants to the Spratly Islands are Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia. (PCOO)

Malacanang welcomes reaffirmation of alliance between PHL and U.S. to achieve common aspiration of peace and stability

Malacanang has welcomed the reaffirmation of the alliance between the Philippines and the United States (US) made by US Ambassador Harry Thomas as the countries move forward to achieve their common aspiration of peace and stability.

“The strategic partnership between the Philippines and the United States is a positive factor in achieving our, and the ASEAN, aspiration of peace and stability in the region: an aspiration we believe is also shared by all the countries in the region as well,” said Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda in a statement issued on Wednesday at Malacanang.

Lacierda said: “that Philippine government reiterated that peaceful dialogue on a multilateral basis is the best way forward for the Philippines, ASEAN, and all nations with whom we interact.”

Foreign policy under this administration, Lacierda said, has been firm and consistent.

In his inaugural address on June 30, 2010, the President pledged, “We are ready to take our place as a reliable member of the community of nations, a nation serious about its commitments and which harmonizes its national interests with its international responsibilities.”

This was reiterated on September, 2010 when the President said in his statement at the 2nd ASEAN-US Leaders’ Meeting, that, “his administration renews its commitment to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and strongly supports the drafting of a formal code for the South China Sea in which claimants vow to adhere to diplomatic processes to resolve territorial disputes.”

The President, in the same statement expresses the belief that this is consistent with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s pronouncements on the South China Sea made in July last year, supporting collaborative diplomatic processes.

“As a peace-loving country, the Philippines supports any efforts to deal with potential irritants in the most peaceful way possible,” the President said. (PCOO)

Palace welcomes latest upgraded credit rating by Moody’s

Malacanang welcomed on Wednesday the move of Moody’s Investors Service in upgrading the Philippines sovereign rating to Ba2 from Ba3 stable outlook saying that President Benigno S. Aquino III had successfully implemented its fiscal sustainability program.

Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the latest upgraded credit rating by Moody’s for the Philippines clearly affirmed the economic agenda and leadership of the President particularly his fiscal sustainability program.

“This is an affirmation of the economic agenda and leadership of [President Benigno S.C. Aquino III], particularly our fiscal sustainability program,” Purisima said in a statement.

“This is something we had been aiming for. We are very pleased with Moody’s recognition of the fiscal reforms the Aquino administration has enacted and more importantly, with their confidence in the future path of fiscal consolidation of the Philippines," he added.

The upgrade, however, will prompt the government to work harder, Purisima said, stressing that the Aquino administration will "strengthen even more our resolve to ensure fiscal sustainability through good governance, transparency in our actions and hard work."

Purisima noted that Moody's upgrade was the second "in less than a year of the Aquino administration," following Standard &Poor's one notch upgrade to "BB stable" last November.

In a press briefing on Wednesday in Malacanang, Presidential Spokesperson Atty. Edwin Lacierda said Moody’s Ba2 rating on the Philippines foreign and local currency long-term bonds shows that the country will have greater access to credit lines in the foreign borrowing institutions.

“This will also impliedly expect lower interest rates provided for us,” he said.

Citing progress in fiscal consolidation and sustained economic stability, Moody's said it is not impossible for the Philippines to achieve any further upgrade as long as they continue to improve its strength in the balance of payments and health in its financial system, and will be able to sustain progress towards fiscal consolidation and debt reduction. (PCOO)

Malacanang welcomes amendments made by U.S. on travel advisory for its citizens

Malacanang welcomed the amendments made by the State Department of the United States (US) in its latest travel advisory for its citizen that indicates evident progress in the country’s security situation.

In his official statement delivered during a press briefing at the Palace on Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that the amendments on the provisions in the latest US travel advisory for its citizens somehow expresses an improved confidence of the US on the peace and order situation in the country.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs has noted the update to the travel advisory for its nationals on the Philippines issued by the State Department of the United States. There have been amendments from the previous November 2, 2010 travel advisory indicating that progress in the security situation, and therefore the safety of tourists and visitors, have been observed,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda said that the advisory is being issued regularly by the US State department every six months.

“Itong apat na bagay na binago po shows in more improvement for us sa concerns nila, but again this is a regular travel warning provided by the United States State department for their citizens,” Lacierda noted.

“Sa tingin po namin, patuloy ang pag-improve ng safety ng ating mga citizens at pati na rin ang sa kanilang mamamayan.”

He added that the Aquino administration is continuously working seriously to maintain peace and order in the country and ensure public safety and security.

“So we are seeing improvements in the travel advisory provided by the United States State Department on the Philippines… like we said, we are continuously trying to make sure that we ensure public safety of our own citizens and our visitors,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda was referring to four provisions that were included in the previously issued advisories that were not included in the present travel advisory.

These provisions include: “targeted sites may be public gathering places that are frequented by expatriates and foreign citizens including American citizens” in the November 2, 2010 advisory.

“In the present travel warning, US citizens traveling, living and working throughout the Philippines are urged to exercise heightened caution,” Lacierda explained.

In the kidnap for ransom provision, the November 2, 2010 warning stated that kidnap for ransom gangs were active throughout the Philippines and targeting foreigners, warning foreigners who resided in or visiting the Sulu archipelago in Mindanao to hire their own security. This provision has also been removed in the latest advisory. (PCOO)

Expanded Public-Private Sector panel seen to boost country’s global competitiveness

Malacañang has expanded a public-private sector task force in charge of addressing investor issues in fresh bid to improve the global competitiveness of the Philippines.

Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said on Wednesday that Executive Order No. 44 signed by President Benigno Aquino III on June 3 is a step toward enhancing the competitive ranking of the country while strengthening the local industries.

“The government and the business sector have the shared aspiration to jointly address the competitiveness indicators that will impact on our international competitiveness ranking and strengthen our industries, agriculture and service sectors, and thereby create more jobs and increase income,” Ochoa said.

The President’s order renames the Public-Private Sector Task Force on Philippine Competitiveness, which was established by virtue of EO 571 issued on October 5, 2006, to National Competitiveness Council (NCC). The council is attached to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and will report to the Cabinet’s Economic Development Cluster.

EO 44 beefs up the NCC with the inclusion of the heads of the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Tourism (DOT). Other members are the secretaries of DTI and the Departments of Finance and Education, director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, and five representatives from the private sector.

The President deemed it important to include the DOE secretary in the joint panel in view of the rising cost of power that dulls the country’s international competitiveness, Ochoa explained.

“The DOT is included in the NCC in recognition of the fact that the development of the tourism industry holds the greatest potential for job creation and generation of additional revenues for the government,” the Executive Secretary added.

Under the presidential issuance, the NCC serves as a primary collection point of investor issues that need to be addressed in order to improve international competitiveness in the industry, services and agricultural sectors.

The council is to advise the President on policy matters affecting the competitiveness of the business sector and provide inputs to the Philippine Development Plan, the Philippine Investments Priority Plan and the Philippine Exports Priority Plan.

Part of the NCC’s task is to coordinate, monitor and ensure the implementation of key policy improvement processes associated with international competitiveness, as well as recommend legislation that may contribute to further boost competitiveness.

The DTI secretary is designated chairperson of the NCC with a private sector representative, to be appointed by the President, as co-chairperson. The five representatives from the private sector will have a term of two years.

The DTI-Center for Industrial Competitiveness serves as the NCC Secretariat to be headed by its executive director, with the support of a private sector staff headed by an operations director.

The EO earmarks P5 million, which will be drawn from the Contingent Fund of the Office of the President, for the operating expenses of the NCC. Subsequent annual funding of the council will be incorporated in the regular budget of the DTI and subject to existing accounting and auditing laws and regulations, while the private sector shall provide funding for its own activities. (PCOO)

Palace designates DOJ as ‘Competition Authority’ on domestic, international trade

Malacañang has designated the Department of Justice (DOJ) as the country’s “Competition Authority” to ensure fair domestic trade, as it pushes for antitrust measures that will curb monopolies, break up cartels, and eliminate other abusive practices in business.

Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said on Wednesday that Executive Order No. 45, signed by President Benigno Aquino III on June 9, recognizes the need to promote competition and level the playing field in the market to encourage needed investments and safeguard the interest of the general public.

“The 16-point Agenda of the administration provides that this will be a government that creates conditions conducive to the growth and competitiveness of private businesses, big, medium, and small,” Ochoa pointed out.

“The President’s policy, as he had stated during his first State of the Nation Address, called for measures that will allow and guarantee fair competition,” he also said.

Under EO 45, the DOJ is tasked to investigate all cases involving violations of competition laws and prosecute violators to prevent, restrain, and punish monopolization, cartels, and combinations in restraint of trade.

The DOJ is likewise ordered to enforce competition policies and laws to protect consumers from abusive, fraudulent, or harmful corrupt business practices; and supervise competition in markets by ensuring that prohibitions and requirements of competition laws are followed.

EO 45 further directs the DOJ to monitor and implement measures to promote transparency and accountability in markets; as well as prepare, publish, and disseminate studies and reports on competition to inform and guide the industry and consumers.

The DOJ is also charged to promote international cooperation and strengthen Philippine trade relations with other countries, economies, and institutions in trade agreements.

According to the Executive Secretary, the DOJ is designated as Competition Authority under EO 45 since it is mandated by law to review all laws related to trusts and monopolies, or combinations in restraint of trade, to enable the government to deal more efficiently with abusive business practices, including monopolies and cartels. (PCOO)