Malacanang welcomes release of Jail personnel in Cotabato by New Peoples Army
Malacañang welcomed on Sunday the release of four Bureau of Jail Management and Penology personnel who were abducted by suspected members of the New People’s Army in Bukidnon last July.
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, in a press briefing aired over government-run radio station dzRB, called the release a “confidence building measure” but appealed to the rebels not to include civilians or non-combatants in their operations.
“We welcome the release of the four BJMP personnel but we’d like to remind the CPP-NPA-NDF that the BJMP personnel are considered as non-combatants. They are not combatants so they should not be used as pawns in this war,” Lacierda said.
“So ang request namin sa NPA ay huwag naman pong gamitin yung mga civilian or non-combatants sa kanilang operations,” he added, urging them to “continue these confidence building measures.”
He said the government remains committed to the pursuit of lasting peace with the rebels as “we have been doing a series of moves to show our sincerity towards advancing the peace process.”
The four BJMP personnel namely: Inspector Murphy Todyog, Jail Warden Erico Llamasares, Special Jail Officer 2 Rogelio Begontes and Jail Officer 1 Rolando Bajoyo Jr., were released by their captors unharmed in Barangay Balite, Magpet town in North Cotabato on Saturday. (PCOO)
Malacanang says government 'has enough fiscal space' to address damages caused by twin typhoons
The Philippine government “has enough fiscal space” to address concerns with respect to calamity funds given the extent of the damage to agriculture products and infrastructure caused by the twin typhoons that hit Central Luzon just recently, Malacañang said Sunday.
Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda issued this statement quoting Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima in response to questions on whether Malacañang mulls asking Congress for a supplemental budget to increase the P8-billion calamity fund that would help address the damages caused by typhoons ‘Pedring’ and ‘Quiel’ which are reportedly pegged at P13.8-billion.
Lacierda, however, said the government will be discussing more issues related to calamity this week, including the recommendation of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin to formally declare a state of calamity in all the areas severely affected by the onslaught of ‘Pedring’ and ‘Quiel’.
But even without the declaration of state of calamity, Lacierda said the government has taken the necessary measures to help ease the plight of the people in the calamity-stricken communities.
He said the Department of Trade and Industry continuously monitors the affected areas and has imposed price freeze in an apparent bid to prevent profiteers from taking advantage of the situation.
When asked whether the government is willing to accept financial aid or any kind of assistance from other countries, Lacierda said: “Wala pong offer ngayon. Right now, may nagtanong na po sa atin tungkol diyan kung kailangan. Ang sagot po ni Secretary [Cesar] Purisima, there’s enough fiscal space to handle the calamity.”
Lacierda, nevertheless, expressed his gratitude on behalf of the government for the message of sympathy extended by the United States through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the victims of the calamity in the country.
“Maraming salamat po sa kanilang concern sa atin and we welcome these remarks and alam po natin malaking tulong po ito… Kaalyado po natin ang Estados Unidos and it’s very encouraging that they have shown concern for us and the other ASEAN nations that are likewise affected,” Lacierda said. (PCOO)