Thursday, 20 October 2011

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, October 20, 2011

Aquino joins Asian business leaders in honoring companies with best corporate social responsibility programs

President Benigno S. Aquino III joined Asian business leaders in honoring companies within the region who have exhibited and have carefully embedded the core values of being socially responsible corporations into their respective Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs.

The awarding ceremonies were held at the close of the two-day Asian Forum on Corporate Social Responsibility (AFCSR) held at the Edsa Shanri-la Hotel in Mandaluyong City Wednesday night.

The AFCSR, Asia’s foremost conference and expo on corporate social responsibility, is now on its 10th year of developing and enjoining companies to embrace CSR practices as part of its processes and operations.

This year’s Asian CSR awards were given to Asian companies for outstanding, innovative and world class CSR products and programs in five categories namely: Health Enhancement, Environmental Excellence, Education Improvement, Poverty Alleviation, and the Intel-AIM Corporate Responsibility Award (IACRA) that recognizes a company or organization that has made CSR an integral part of the way they do business.

This year’s awardees are: Pfizer Thailand, for Health; The Link Management, Ltd., for Environment; Citi Pakistan and Double A (1991) Plc, for Poverty Alleviation; Abbott Singapore, for Education; and Shangri-la Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa – IACRA.

In his speech, President Aquino noted the absence of a Filipino company winner but vowed to make sure to have one by the next AFCSR.

“I understand that in the previous years there were a lot of Philippine companies recognized. In the first time that I have an occasion to talk before you, not a single Filipino company managed to be awarded,” the President said.

“But I will endeavor that next year, I will try to motivate more and more of our companies to excel so that they, in turn can be recognized lest the Philippines be left behind,” he added.

This year’s AFCSR theme is: “Strategic CSR: Creating Shared Value.” (PCOO)

Reason for positive outlook on Asian businesses is corporate social responsibility, says Aquino

Adhering to and practicing the values of being socially responsible to the people and the environment are the main reasons for the positive outlook people have on corporations in this part of the world, President Benigno S. Aquino III said Wednesday night.

In his speech keynoting the 10th Asian Forum on Corporate Social Responsibility held at the Edsa Shangri-La Hotel in Mandaluyong City, the President said the latest economic and social crisis sweeping the globe is not wreaking havoc in the Asian region precisely because of corporate social responsibility.

“While of course there will always be exceptions, here in our region, corporations —especially the ones more active in their humanitarian endeavors — are generally seen in a positive light,” the President said.

This he said, has allowed the people to “recognize the value that business can bring to a nation (and) see the opportunities and the possibilities, and realize that corporations and individuals can empower each other and partner toward the achievement of a just society.”

“I believe that this is partly because many Philippine and Asian corporations have been actively engaged in Corporate Social Responsibility activities,” the President said.

“Many, if not all of you present here today have made the conscious decision to play a greater role in the communities in which you do business,” he added.

“Realizing that you do not live and work in a vacuum, you have done your best to help ensure that the people living in the societies in which you operate are given the chance to live a more dignified life,” he said.

He enjoined other corporations to embrace and exert more effort to implementing values of corporate social responsibility in its operations and processes, saying the practice of such programs will “ultimately lead to a more stable business environment.”

“It is, at the bottom line, an investment: in an empowered consumer and professional base, in a more equitable world, and in the future of humanity,” the President said.

“In fact, corporations can do this simply by being aware—by being observant of what’s going on around them, and by acting promptly on the concerns of the people. Now, more than ever, corporations and governments alike must continue to address the yearnings of the people: social justice, accountability, and inclusive growth,” he added.

“We must foster the attitude of giving back, and of always remembering that the growth of companies—that the growth of economies—rely, in essence, on the empowerment of the people. No one must be left behind,” he said. (PCOO)

Aquino not keen on 'all-out-war' against lawless elements of MILF

PALO, Leyte:
President Benigno S. Aquino III categorically ruled out any possibility of engaging the country’s military in an “all-out war” with the lawless members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) following their latest clash in Albarka, Basilan on Tuesday that killed 19 Filipino soldiers.

Speaking to reporters in a chance interview Thursday after gracing the 67th commemoration of the historic Leyte Gulf Landing, President Aquino admitted that he was “not happy” with this development adding, however, that war is not the solution to address the problem.

Explaining his position using the rotten egg analogy and remembering lessons that were drawn from history, President Aquino said it is better for the government to have the situation investigated first rather than jump into conclusions right away without having the facts established.

“Are we advocating a let’s-go all-out-war and that redounds an improvement to the situation? I think if you heard my speech earlier, matuto naman tayo. [Sa] giyera, walang nakikinabang… ‘Pag may one rotten egg dapat ba ‘yung buong basket of eggs tukuyin na natin na sila lahat masama? Maganda nga imbestigahan muna natin kung ano ang nangyari,” the President told reporters.

In line with this, President Aquino announced that he will hold a command conference in Camp Aguinaldo tomorrow to get the complete details of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) report about the encounter.

“’Pag nakuha mo ‘yung lahat ng detalye, ‘yun ang magsasabi sa’yo ng course of action. Pero kung tatalon tayo kaagad na may conclusion, wala namang facts, eh napaka-iresponsable ‘non,” the President said.

President Aquino said he wants to discuss details with the AFP in relation to their operations in Basilan and the death of the 19 soldiers as he remembered a similar incident back in July when seven Marines were brutally killed by the members of the Abu Sayyaf.

“Kung maaalala ninyo, nagkaroon ng trahedya sa ating mga Marines sa Sulu at mayroong mga dapat nagawa pagkatapos ‘non para manigurado na hindi ganito ang mangyayaring trahedya. At nangyari na naman ito, so hindi talaga ako natutuwa at gusto kong malaman ang puno’t dulo ng buong operasyon na ‘to,” the President said.

“Dapat talaga masiyasat kung ano ang dahilan na ganito ang naging resulta sa ating Sandatahang Lakas at iwasto. At hihingin ko bukas ang mga detalye ng pagwawasto na kanilang dapat ginawa noon pa lang na may trahedya sa Sulu sa mga Marines,” he added.

President Aquino, on the other hand, expressed his deep sympathies to the victims and their respective families as he took note that more measures are needed to further improve the military’s defense capabilities and to ensure that threat groups can no longer prevail over the armed forces. (PCOO)

Aquino leads commemoration of 67th Leyte Gulf Landing

PALO, Leyte:
President Benigno S. Aquino III underscored the importance of unity and solidarity among nations to attain a common goal of winning the peace as he expressed elation over their continuous reciprocity and support in pursuing shared aspirations towards success and progress.

In his speech during the commemoration of the 67th Leyte Gulf Landing at the MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park here on Thursday, President Aquino welcomed the solemn commemoration of the heroism of veterans from several countries and the renewal of their commitment to maintain peace and preserve the precious lives of the people.

“In the close to seven decades that have passed since then, it is good to see that the wounds of war have healed. Today, on this beach, Filipinos, Americans, Canadians, Australians, and Japanese can gather in solemn commemoration, no longer divided by enmity. All of us here, Filipinos and foreigners alike, are able to recall our veterans and their sacrifices, while renewing our commitment to never again allow aggression and war to destroy lives,” the President said.

“It is good to see us here today, in solidarity, no longer divided by the past, and ready to confront the problems of the present and the future. Surely, if we hold strong, and if we pursue our shared aspirations where once we were divided, then we can move our respective countries forward and enjoy a large measure of mutual success,” he added.

The Chief Executive noted the respective efforts of each country to uphold what the veterans have fought for and the various projects focused on providing benefits for them.

“In the three generations since the War, our respective governments have tried to make the sacrifices and heroism of the War Years meaningful, by upholding each nation’s obligations to their veterans,” the President said.

He also cited the Aquino government’s programs for the Filipino veterans through the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) that include the pensioners’ list revalidation and the improved medical care for them and theiir respective rightful dependents at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) and several accredited government hospitals.

“I am proud to say that, under our watch, we have done our part… our Philippine Veterans Affairs Office has been very active in their Pensioners’ Revalidation Program, making certain that their list of pensioners is updated and accurate…” President Aquino noted.

“Fraudulent pensioners are the ultimate show of disrespect to those who have served their countries valiantly; and we are ensuring that a few greedy individuals do not pocket funds set aside for our heroes,” he stressed.

“We have likewise improved the medical care available to our veterans. The Veterans Memorial Medical Center has widened the access to hospitalization services of veterans by accrediting 562 government hospitals as of August this year. And the VMMC subsidizes the hospital bills not merely of veterans, but also of their qualified dependents,” the President said.

Present during the event were other government officials led by Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ramon Carandang, Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla, Palo Mayor Remedios Petilla, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Eduardo Oban, (Ret.) Colonel Francisco San Miguel, Executive Vice President and Secretary General of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines and other local officials.

Also in attendance were members of the diplomatic corps that include US Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr., Japanese Ambassador Toshinao Urabe, Counselor for Political Affairs James Christoff of Canada, and Defense Attache Captain Craig White of Australia.

Upon his arrival, the President was given military honors, which was followed by the flag-raising ceremony. He also witnessed the raising of the flags of Australia, Canada, Japan and USA.

The President, joined by Governor Petilla and the foreign dignitaries, led the wreath-laying ceremony at the MacArthur Monument.

The Macarthur Landing Memorial was built to commemorate the historic return of General Douglas MacArthur to the Philippines on October 20, 1944. (PCOO)

Aquino orders environmental group to work on mining policy

PALO, Leyte:
President Benigno S. Aquino has directed his environmental group of advisers to come up with a policy that will regulate the conduct of mining without risking the natural resources of the country.

In an ambush interview following the commemoration of the 67th Leyte Gulf Landing Anniversary here on Thursday, President Aquino said that he has tasked several members of his cabinet to work on a policy concerning the mining industry.

The environmental group includes Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje, Climate Change Commissioner Mary Ann Lucille Sering, Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) Administrator Nereus Acosta and Presidential Assistant for Climate Change Elisea Gozun.

“Inatasan ko si Secretary Paje, si LLDA administrator Neric Acosta na siya pong eksperto sa environment ng ating partido., si Sering ng climate change at saka si Bebet Gozun, ating adviser on ecological matters, to sit down, craft the mining policy that will merge two things,” President Aquino said.

“Number one, ma-regulate para mabantayan ang kalikasan, ma-maximize iyong pupunta sa gobyerno at sa bayan… pangalawa, i-preserve iyong ating potentials lalo na sa eco-tourism at talaga naman pangalagaan iyong ating kalikasan,” he added.

Apart from the policy to be crafted, the President said that stakeholders in the mining industry will also be consulted to arrive at a consensus for its proper conduct in the country.

“So, sila ang in-charge na maglalabas ng policy at tatawagin lahat ng stakeholders, idadaan sa kanila para meron tayong consensus kung paano nga ba natin patatakbuhin iyong mining industry ng Pilipinas,” the President said.

The Chief Executive stressed the ill effects of small scale mining and its consequent effects on the environment and the people living in its area of operation.

He also noted that large scale mining could be regulated and could observe strict compliance to government policies to be implemented.

“Pag-binan (ban) natin iyong mining ang maiiwan small scale mining napakaraming tao na ang hirap i-regulate. Pagmahirap i-regulate ibig sabihin nun tulad ng nangyari sa Romblon ang dami na nung mercury na pumapasok sa ating water sources,” the President said.

“Ang solusyon dapat talaga diyan, okay iyong large scale (mining) may kakayahan na itama iyong damage sa kalikasan pero iwasan na magka-damage to begin with,” he added. (PCOO)

Government maintains its position on 20 percent withholding tax for peace bonds says Aquino

PALO, Leyte:
The government is maintaining its position in subjecting the Poverty Eradication and Alleviation Certificates (PEACe) bonds to 20-percent withholding tax, President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Wednesday.

President Aquino made the statement in a chance interview with reporters on Thursday who inquired about the details of his meeting with Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares regarding the matter on Wednesday.

“I think it is safer for us to implement the law the way we understand it rather than to ignore implementing the law and be guilty of not fulfilling our obligations and duties,” he said.

The President reminded media and the general public that the 20-percent withholding tax should have been collected 10 years ago as determined by a 2004 BIR ruling and they, at the Executive branch, have no right to waive that which was imposed by Congress.

The President, nevertheless, clarified that the implementation of which will be up to the Supreme Court that has recently issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) to the BIR from executing its latest ruling to start collecting taxes from the PEACe bonds.

“It’s in the court right now and the courts will decide whose interpretation is correct,” said the President.

The controversial bonds started when Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE-NGO) bought the bonds on Oct. 16, 2001 through Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) at the discounted rate of P10.17 billion and at 12.75 percent interest, according to reports.

Eight of the country’s major banks which filed the petition for TRO in the high court reportedly claimed that imposing a 20-percent final withholding tax on the PEACe bonds' interests would be in violation of the 1997 Tax Code, as well as the “non-impairment of contracts" clause under the Constitution.

“‘Yung taxes imposed by Congress—‘pag magbibigay ka ng exemptions o ia-amend, babawasan, dadagdagan puro Kongreso po ‘yan. Kami taga-implement ng batas,” the President emphasized for his part, defending the government’s stand on the issue. (PCOO)