Wednesday, 30 November 2011

PIA News Dispatch - Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Aquino cites importance of tourism to country’s economic growth

President Benigno S. Aquino III underscored the importance of promoting the country’s tourism industry in line with the government’s efforts to uplift the lives of the Filipino people.

In his speech during the launching of the Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros, Manila, Tuesday, President Aquino noted the significant role of public and private sector cooperation in promoting the country’s world-class tourist destinations that could generate jobs and opportunities for the Filipinos.

The tourism industry, he said, is one of the key sectors the Aquino administration is focusing on to encourage more visitors to explore and visit the country.

“Turismo po ang isa sa sector na talaga nating pangangalagaan. Alam po ninyo, naiwanan na po tayo ng ating mga kapit-bayan. Sa Malaysia po ay ‘di raw bababa sa 32 million ang turista; sa Thailand, 14 million—tayo naman po ay three million. Napakalayo naman po niyan. Kaya iyong dagdag po this year na 12 percent ay sana hudyat lang ng tuloy-tuloy na mangyayari sa ating bansa. Pagtutulungan po ng pribado at publikong sektor ang magdadala sa atin sa dagdag na hanap-buhay, dagdag na oportunidad, dagdag na pag-asa para sa ating mga kababayan,” the President said.

The President said that more tourists are expected to come in especially this Christmas season.

“Ngayong papalapit na ang kapaskuhan,inaasahan nating lalo pang titindi ang pagdagsa ng mga bisita sa Pilipinas. Sa unang siyam na buwan ng taong kasalukuyan, umabot na sa two point eighty-eight milyon ang turista sa ating bansa,” President Aquino said.

“Mas mataas ito nang labindalawang porsiyento kung ikukumpara sa nakaraang taon. Hudyat ito para sa tuloy-tuloy nating pagpapayabong sa atin pong turismo,” he added.

President Aquino further said that the government has been painstakingly carrying out programs to modernize the country’s tourism facilities to further improve the country’s image as the best destination to other parts of the world.

“Mula sa modernisasyon ng mga paliparan at daungan, hanggang sa renobasyon ng mga kalsada, tulay at iba pang mga imprastraktura, bibigyan natin ng mas matingkad na imahe ang turismo sa bansa. Panahon na upang taas-noo nating ihayag sa mundo: ‘Halina kayo’t dumayo sa Perlas ng Silangan; bukas ang aming pinto para inyong maranasan ang kultura, kasaysayan, at hiwagang dito sa Pilipinas lamang ninyo matutuklasan,’” the President.

“Mahalagang maisakatuparan ang mga inisyatiba natin sa sektor na ito dahil alam nating sa bawat turistang tumatangkilik sa ating mga tanawin, trabaho ito para sa isang amang dati ay nakatambay lang, gamot ito para sa nanay na malapit nang manganak, edukasyon ito para sa paslit na makakapag-aral sa disenteng paaralan,” he noted.

President Aquino led in opening the Bayleaf, a five-star hotel in Intramuros which is one of the country’s premier heritage sites. The newly-opened hotel, owned and operated by the Lyceum of the Philippines University, is touted as the Laurel family’s contribution to the tourism program of the Aquino administration.

Also present during the event are Public works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation Chairman Cristino Naguiat Jr. and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, among others. (PCOO)

Aquino graces eye doctors’ Congress in Manila

President Benigno S. Aquino congratulated the International Society of Dacryology and Dry Eye (ISD&DE) on its 10th International Congress saying that while eye doctors treat their patients, his government initiates reforms that benefits the people.

“This is truly a significant opportunity to be among doctors who share a common goal of easing the burden of people that suffer from dry eye, so I hope you will take full stock of the new developments that will be shared in this room and in this Congress,” the President said in his keynote address before the eye doctors at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) on Tuesday.

“In the same way that you are concerned with ensuring that the eyes of your patients are free from these diseases, so too is our government concerned with freeing society from the diseases that had previously crippled it: the disease of poverty and vulnerability, of corruption and dishonesty, and of social inequality and the lack of access to social services, among others,” he stressed.

The President spelled out health programs that his administration carries out especially for poor Filipinos in the far-flung areas, to give them access to quality healthcare.

Among the government’s efforts towards ensuring better health care to the poor include dispatching nurses and midwives to communities in need.

To improve the country’s health facilities, the government is upgrading hospitals and clinics, the President said. Seven hundred forty-two million pesos has been released to improve health infrastructure, procure new equipment, and support the research and treatment programs of government hospitals, he said.

For better eye care for poor Filipinos, the President said the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) now shoulders the cost of cataract surgery under its sponsored program.

The Chief Executive said he hopes that the Manila eye congress will spur the organization and other members of the medical community in its continuing pursuit of providing quality healthcare to the whole world.

“I am hopeful that each of you will gain success and renown in your field, not only for the research and additional knowledge that you can contribute, but also for the compassion and skill with which you treat your patients, knowing that, above all, your responsibility is to care for human life,” he said.

UST, in collaboration with the Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology hosted the 10th Congress of the ISD&DE on November 29, Tuesday. The ISD&DE congress in Manila is the first time to be held in Asia.

More than 500 participants from 26 countries joined the event. These include eye doctors and experts from the US, Spain, Turkey, the UK, Hungary, Singapore, Japan, the Netherlands, India, Switzerland, Greece, Austria, Indonesia, Russia, Italy, Germany, Australia, China, Canada, Sweden and many others.

Founded in 1982, ISD&DE is the pioneer organization on tears and lacrimal diseases. It is a scientific society for the research and diffusion of knowledge in the lacrimal domain. (PCOO)

Aquino hopes eye doctors’ Manila conference boosts Philippine tourism

President Benigno S. Aquino III exhorted the delegates of the 10th Congress of the International Society of Dacryology and Dry Eye (ISD&DE) who are currently in Manila to visit the country’s tourist destination and see what the Philippines can offer.

The President keynoted Tuesday the 10th Congress of the ISD&DE at the University of Santo Tomas, a gathering of eye doctors and experts to increase their knowledge in providing better treatment to their patients, especially for the diagnosis and treatment of dry eye and other related diseases.

“While you are here, I also invite you to look around and explore our country. As I understand it, tours have been organized by the Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology, and these would give you an opportunity to visit some of our most famous tourist destinations, from sites famous for their natural beauty and scenery, to those of great significance to our cultural and historical identity,” the President said.

Aside from providing increased knowledge to eye doctors, ISD&DE’s Manila congress aims to broaden eco-tourism in the Philippines. Foreign delegates who signed up for the congress have the chance to visit the country’s tourist destinations.

The Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology is organizing tours for the delegates from December 1 to 3, hoping that it could boost tourist arrivals as the delegates would be able to promote the country when they return to their respective countries.

Earlier, the President said he hopes that 12 percent tourist arrivals in the country this year become a good starting point for the country to host more tourists.

The Philippines has been lagging behind its Asian neighbors with Malaysia having 22 million tourist arrivals each year while Thailand has 14 million. The Philippines only posts 3 million arrivals every year, the President said. (PCOO)

Aquino to honor outstanding and exemplary OFWs in Malacañang Thursday

President Benigno S. Aquino III will lead the awarding ceremonies honoring the country’s outstanding and exemplary overseas Filipino Workers during the 2011 Bagong Bayani Awards that will be held in Malacañang on Thursday.

The President will deliver a speech extolling those who are now called “New Heroes” for portraying the Filipino as an exemplary and dedicated worker through their sacrifice and skill.

Joining the President will be Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz and Bagong Bayani Foundation, Incorporated (BBFI) president Eduardo Santos.

The Bagong Bayani Awards is a national search for the country’s outstanding and exemplary OFWs who exert extra effort to foster goodwill among peoples of the world, enhance and promote the image of the Filipino as a component, responsible and dignified worker and contribute to the socio-economic development of their communities and the country. (PCOO)

Malacanang says Philippine economy remains strong despite debt crisis in Europe

The country’s economic managers were able to steer the Philippine economy very well this year, and it might continue next year, Malacanang said on Wednesday allaying fears of a possible spill over of the European debt crisis.

In a press briefing on Wednesday, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that the country’s fiscal situation remains strong because of the prudent handling of the economy.

Early this week, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) urged policy-makers around the world to be prepared to “face the worst,” as the economic impact of Europe’s debt crisis threatens to spread around the developed world.

“We have been very, very prudent. We have avoided the pitfalls that other nations, those experienced by other economies. Our infrastructure spending is going to go up. We believe that the infrastructure spending for 2011 will spill over to next year. And also we have the 2012 infrastructure projects that will be moving by next year,” Lacierda said explaining the Philippines economic condition.

Asked if the Philippines will join calls for the European Union (EU) leaders to take decisive action to stem the crisis, he said: “Our banks, banking institutions, have been very, very prudent. Our fiscal managers have not piled on debts for our country. So I think we are in a good situation.”

While the country could be affected by the recession in other countries or the downturn in the global economy, Lacierda however said that domestically, they believe the Philippines is in “a good situation.”

OECD said the continued failure by EU leaders to stem the debt crisis that began in Greece could escalate and result to “highly devastating outcomes.”

The Philippines is seen to grow economically not far from its Southeast Asian neighbors, with a regional average growth rate of 5.6-percent between 2012 and 2016. The OECD projects the Philippine economy to grow only by 4.5 percent this year.

OECD said regional growth drivers will be Indonesia and Vietnam in the medium term. They are expected to grow on average by 6.6 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively, between 2012 and 2016, it said. (PCOO)

PHL government respects Chinese law and Supreme People’s Court’s verdict in imposing death penalty to a Filipino national

The Philippines respects the Chinese law and the verdict of the Supreme People's Court (SPC) which affirmed a lower court's ruling on the imposition of the death penalty on a Filipino national in connection with a drug trafficking case.

"We have exhausted all legal efforts. The President also wrote a letter to President Hu Jintao. Secretary (Albert) Del Rosario also appealed and made representations before the Chinese Ambassador here," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Wednesday.

"The Philippine Government itself has a strong anti-illegal drug policy, and is closely cooperating with law enforcement agencies in China and in other countries on efforts against drug trafficking," Lacierda said, quoting the statement of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

In a statement, the DFA said the High People's Court (HPC) of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region informed the Philippine Consulate General in Guangzhou on November 28 that the Supreme People's Court (SPC) in Beijing affirmed the lower court's decision imposing the death penalty on a Filipino national who was convicted of drug trafficking. The death penalty will be carried out on December 8.

"We appeal to all Filipinos, especially Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), not to allow themselves to be victimized by international drug syndicates and to be extremely cautious when dealing with strangers in airports and other areas of transit," the DFA said.

The Philippine government stressed that vigilance is the first major step in combating the modus operandi of international drug traffickers.

"We urge all our citizens to be on the alert at all times in order not to be victimized by drug syndicates. We hope and appeal to the members of the media to continue helping the government in its campaign to fight drug trafficking," the DFA averred.

Reports said the Filipino national, 35, was convicted for smuggling 1.495 kilos of heroin in Guangxi. He came from Malaysia when he was apprehended on September 13, 2008 at the Guilin International Airport for possession of heroin.

The DFA said the Philippine Government provided the Filipino national all necessary and possible assistance and ensured that his legal rights were observed from the time of his arrest and throughout the judicial process.

President Benigno S. Aquino III has sent a letter of appeal to Chinese President Hu Jintao requesting commutation of his death penalty to life imprisonment. Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario has also made representations with the Chinese Ambassador to convey the appeal of the Philippine Government for a mitigated sentence for the Filipino national's case.

The Filipino national was represented by a legal counsel at all levels of proceedings before the Intermediate People's Court and the HPC, according to the DFA.

"This is the last death penalty conviction, without reprieve, which concerns drug trafficking in China's highest court. Originally, there were six death penalty convictions without reprieves. Three of these convictions were eventually affirmed by China's highest court, namely those of Ramon Credo, Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, and Elizabeth Batain. The penalties of the other two of the six convictions were lowered by the high court from death penalty without reprieve to death penalty with two-year reprieve," the DFA said. (PCOO)

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Government working towards changing 'mistaken notions' towards people with disabilities – Aquino

The government is working towards changing the “mistaken notions” people have against people with disabilities (PWDs), President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Tuesday.

In his speech keynoting the 2nd Asia-Pacific Community-based Rehabilitation Congress held on Tuesday at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel in Pasay City, President Aquino said that his government's pledge to “guarantee” equitability and growth was for all.

“When we promised inclusive growth, we promised it to all Filipinos, including those who by virtue of certain limitations, tend to be thought of as being unable to contribute to society. This is not necessarily a mindset that comes from cruelty, but one that perhaps only stems from ignorance and mistaken notions,” the President said.

“And this is something that we want to change, because we know that to perpetuate this prejudice means not only depriving persons with disabilities of their rights, but, more importantly, depriving them of their dreams,” he added.

He said local and national government have already instituted measures to this end through the implementation of community-based rehabilitation strategies.

“Their measures can be as simple as ensuring that someone in a wheelchair is able to move around freely, whether it be to attend school or to file paperwork at the municipal office, or as far-reaching as providing them with opportunities for education and livelihood,” the President said.

On the national level, the President said, the government has put up centers that can provide rehabilitation and care to persons with disabilities, and programs that can help them stand on their own two feet, by providing them with access to training and employment opportunities.

“All of the steps we have taken so far, from instituting fair and honest business practices and good governance in the Philippines, to ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities, are in line with our administration’s dream for the Philippines,” the President said.

“It is not only growth we are after, but inclusive growth; not only progress, but equitable progress. I am sure that this is something you can understand and empathize with, as you too work for the same things in your respective countries and organizations,” he said. (PCOO)

Aquino lauds 2nd Asia-Pacific Community-Based Congress

President Benigno S. Aquino III lauded on Tuesday participants to the 2nd Asia-Pacific Community-Based Rehabilitation Congress for showing to the world that every person counts towards achieving prosperity and growth.

“Through this Congress, we are showing the world that we recognize the right of every person to be part of growth, but more importantly, that we recognize every person’s capacity to contribute in a meaningful way to moving the country forward,” the President said in his keynote speech at the Sofitel Plaza Hotel in Pasay City.

The Congress aims to promote multi-sectoral partnerships towards taking effective and appropriate measures to enable persons with disabilities to attain and maintain maximum independence, full physical, mental, social and vocational ability and full inclusion and participation in all aspects of life as embodied in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

The President challenged the 640 delegates representing 63 countries who attended the three-day affair to forge on towards achieving equality for all including persons with disabilities (PWDs).

“And even in a day as important as this one, we recognize that this is not the culmination of our work; rather, we reinvigorate ourselves to face the challenges that remain,” the President said.

“Despite the positive developments, we must not allow ourselves to be complacent. This is the attitude that all of us must adopt, not merely in improving the lives of persons with disabilities, but in improving the lives of people,” he added.

He pledged government support to the goals of the Community-Based Rehabilitation Congress and vowed to work tirelessly -- “…so long as there are children who deserve an education but cannot get one, so long as there are Filipinos who want to work and provide for their families but cannot do so through no fault of their own, and so long as there are persons with disabilities that are prevented from living full and meaningful lives.

“My message of today is clear: if we work hard, if we work together, if we work in the name of justice, if we do not stray from the straight and righteous path – we will arrive at the destination we have all aspired for from the very beginning: a Philippines, an Asia, and a world that prospers under the clear light of day,” the President said. (PCOO)

Aquino meets congressmen's wives; discusses collaboration

President Benigno S. Aquino III had met the members of the Congressional Spouses Foundation Inc. (CSFI) in Malacanang Tuesday afternoon and discussed future collaboration on various projects with the group.

During their meeting, the President and the congressmen’s wives had an informal discussion on projects and concerns of the foundation. He said his administration is open for cooperation on a wide range of endeavors and the government is always willing to help.

The discussion focused on education, livelihood and other issues. But the President said his government is particularly interested in the agriculture sector and willing to collaborate with organizations like the CSFI to help the sector.

The agriculture sector is a top priority of the government after typhoons devastated wide areas of farmlands that displaced a large number of farmers, the President said.

According to the President, the agriculture department is providing certified seeds to assist farmers at this time.

CSFI, which has advocacies on health, livelihood, social services, violence against children, and women's rights, was organized to complement the legislative initiatives of members of the House of Representatives through various socio-civic actions.

The organization particularly focuses its advocacy on anti-violence against women and children. Its current project includes providing haven for abused and battered women as well as street children. (PCOO)

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, November 28, 2011

Malacañang declares December 2 a special non-working day in Pasay City

Malacanang declared December 2, 2011 as a special non-working day in the city of Pasay in celebration of its 148th Foundation Day.

By virtue of Proclamation No. 294 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on Nov. 23, 2011, Malacanang declared Dec. 2 which falls on a Friday as a special non-working day to give the people of the city the full opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occasion.

The city of Pasay is one of the cities and municipalities that make up Metro Manila in the Philippines. It is bordered on the north by the country's capital, Manila, to the northeast by Makati City, to the east by Taguig City, and Parañaque City to the south.

In 1862, a number of prominent citizens of Pasay sent a petition to the civil and ecclesiastical authorities asking that they be allowed to manage their own political and religious affairs. On December 2, 1863 upon the recommendation of Archbishop Gregorio Martinez of Sta. Cruz, Pasay became a Pueblo. (PCOO)

Aquino to keynote 2nd Asia-Pacific Community-Based Rehabilitation Congress

President Benigno S. Aquino III will keynote the 2nd Asia-Pacific Community-Based Rehabilitation Congress that will take place at the Sofitel Hotel in Manila on Tuesday (November 29).

The Congress, which is being held under the auspices of the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA), aims to promote multi-sectoral partnerships for the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

The UNCRPD requires participating countries to take effective and appropriate measures, including peer support, to enable persons with disabilities to attain and maintain maximum independence, full physical, mental, social and vocational ability and full inclusion and participation in all aspects of life.

The Philippines became the 23rd country to ratify the UNCRPD in 2008 and fully supports its prescribed policy through the Community-Based Rehabilitation, the best strategy to address the needs and promote the rights of people with disabilities worldwide.

This year’s Congress, which will run for three days until December 1, has a general theme “CBR: Building Communities for Everyone,” and a sub-theme “Mainstreaming Disability in the Development Agenda.”

Joining the President will be Social Welfare Secretary and NCDA Chairperson Corazon Soliman. (PCOO)

PIA News Dispatch - Sunday, November 27, 2011

Coloma leads 'Pilipinas Natin' Pampanga launch

SAN LUIS, Pampanga:
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio “Sonny” B. Coloma Jr. underscored the important role of cooperation between the national and local government as partners in nation-building as he led the Pilipinas Natin launch here.

Speaking before a huge crowd of Kapampangans during the formal launching of the Pilipinas Natin program of the Aquino administration at the Dr. Emigio Bondoc Convention Center Saturday, Coloma stressed the need for teamwork and the participation of various sectors through volunteerism in promoting reforms in the country.

He said that such efforts are part of the Pilipinas Natin progam targeting all Filipinos from all the provinces in the country.

“Ang layunin po natin dito ay pagtibayin ang pagkakaisa ng national at local government kasi iyan po ang magka-agapay sa pagtatatag ng ating bansa… simula nung sa Ultra nagdaos tayo sa Davao City, Cabiao, Nueva Ecija, Camarines Sur at ngayon naman dito sa San Luis, Pampanga,” Coloma said.

“Mayrong common themes or elements, isa na diyan yung teamwork between national government and local government, pangalawa ang youth volunteerism… halos sa lahat ng lugar ang nangunguna talaga ang kabataan at pinapakita nila na yung bagong approach natin sa development, hindi na yung gobyerno lahat ang pinanggagalingan ng biyaya, ang mga tao na mismo ang nagkukusang loob na mag-kumpuni ng mga nasira at solusyonan ang kanilang mga problema,” he added.

Coloma added that these positive traits, that are inherent among Filipinos, should be promoted through the said project based on the Philippine Development Plan, the formula for national reforms.

“Sa aking palagay iyan ang diwa na dapat nating palaganapin sa marami pang lugar sa ating bansa sa pamamagitan ng Pilipinas Natin… ang tema ng Philippine Development Plan na roadmap ng ating bansa sa economic, social and political development ay inclusive growth na ibig sabihin ay kasama ang karamihan,” Coloma said.

“Iniaangat natin yung mga nasa ilalim na siyang pinakamahirap, 23 per cent Class C at 67 per cent na Class D, ang buhay nila ang pinabubuti natin,” he added.

These are through the government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino, Conditional Cash Transfer and jobs generation programs that are focused on these classes in our society.

Some 1,100 volunteers and 2,000students from Pampanga-based schools and communities from several cities and municipalities including San Fernando, Angeles, Macabebe and nearby provinces like Bulacan, Laguna, Rizal, Nueva Ecija and Metro Manila convened and showed their concern to the country through mobilization and efforts to repair and rehabilitate the typhoon-stricken public school buildings in the area.

The two-day refurbishing activity exemplifies the values and mission of the Pilipinas Natin program.

Also present during the event were San Luis Mayor Asyong Macapagal, PCOO Undersecretary for Operations George Sylinagco and Ms. Maria Montelibano of the Edsa People Power Commission, among others.

Apart from his encouraging messages, Coloma also led the “Panata sa Pilipinas Natin” followed by various performances from participating youth-oriented groups and organizations.

The event was organized in partnership with the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines (TOSP) for the “iTayo Na! School Rebuilding Challenge.” (PCOO)

Coloma says Aquino government has sufficient funds for Christmas bonus of state workers

SAN LUIS, Pampanga
: Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio “Sonny” B. Coloma Jr. assured that the Aquino government has allotted sufficient funds for the Christmas bonus of all government employees especially now that the yuletide season has started.

In an ambush interview during his attendance to the “Pilipinas Natin” launching, here, Satruday, Coloma said that the much anticipated extra income by the civil servants will surely be released at a most proper time to provide additional support to their needs this Christmas season.

“Sa pagkaalam ko po ay mayroon namang nakalaan na pondo para diyan, hindi naman po ipagkakait iyan… tiyak na sa takdang panahon ay ipagkakaloob sa kanila (government employees) ang mga biyayang nararapat lamang na matanggap nila lalong-lalo na sa kapaskuhan,” Coloma said.

When asked when the bonus will be released, Coloma said the probability is within the second week of December.

“Kung ang pagbabatayan ay iyong nakaraang taon, siguro bago sumapit ang kalagitnaan ng buwan (December) matatanggap na yan,” Coloma noted.

Prior to the interview, the PCOO chief led the launching of “Pilipinas Natin” a developmental nationwide program of the Aquino administration focusing on further enhancing the partnership between the national and local government in nation-building. The program promotes the spirit of volunteerism in every Filipino especially the youth sector.

Pilipinas Natin also aims to uplift the lives of the people, specifically the underprivileged comprising the classes C and D of the society. The Pilipinas Natin program, spearheaded by the PCOO is based on the Philippine Development Plan of the government, the formula for national reforms. (PCOO)

Friday, 25 November 2011

PIA News Dispatch - Friday, November 25, 2011

Aquino inaugurates Climate Change Academy of Albay

President Benigno S. Aquino III inaugurated Friday the Climate Change Academy of Albay as part of the government thrust to combat climate change and its ill effects particularly on the economy.

“Maituturing din po natin na makasaysayan ang araw na ito nang mapasinayaan natin ang kauna-unahang paraalan sa bansa na nakatutok sa climate change—ang Climate Change Academy of Albay,” the President said in his speech after the inauguration.

“Sa pagkakaroon ng programang nakatuon sa climate change adaptation at disaster risk reduction and management, tiwala ako na ang gusaling ito ay hindi lamang magiging pugad ng karunungan ngunit magsisilbi ring silungan ng ating mga kababayan sa oras ng kalamidad.”

The Climate Change Academy, built inside the campus of the Bicol University in Legazpi City, is aimed at contributing to the national effort to fast track the development of climate adaptation capabilities of the country particularly local government units (LGUs).

The academy empowers and trains LGUs for disaster risk management, evaluation of climate risk hazards and adaptive capabilities, planning, and programming.

It is also expected to provide guidelines on experimental learning in the implementation of “disaster proofing” of local stakeholders.

The academy’s strategic approach include raising awareness on disaster risks, progressive training on scenario building, climate and disaster risk assessment and management, and technical assistance for local management and planning.

Recently, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda underscored the importance of institutionalizing the fight against climate change through the academy as well as raising public awareness with the help of media.

“Ang Climate Change Academy is first of its kind in the world, wala pa pong ganyan sa buong mundo. It’s essentially a knowledge management institution,” Salceda said.

Given the vulnerability of the Philippines, being the third most vulnerable country in the world, Salceda said battling or reducing the impacts of climate change is a paramount concern of the government.

Countries that sent students to the Climate Change Academy of Albay include those coming from Laos, Myanmar, Kenya, Nepal and many others, Salceda said.

The provincial government of Albay worked with other government agencies and international organizations in putting up the Climate Change Academy.

Among its partners include the Climate Change Commission, the United Nations System in collaboration with the Philippine government, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),

Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of National Defense (DND), Bicol University, University of the Philippines-Los Banos (UP-LB), International Center for Agroforestry (ICRAF), and University of Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. (PCOO)

Safety measures against disasters always in place, says President Aquino

: President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Friday that the general population is safe from disasters because of the current initiatives against natural calamities.

The President said the government has completed geo-hazard mapping that identify flood and landslide prone areas in different parts of the country to make local government units more prepared in handling and preventing disasters.

“Nasa 65,000 na po ang geo-hazard maps na napagkaloob natin sa mga lokal na pamahalaan upang magsilbing gabay sa kanilang mga inisyatiba kontra sakuna,” the President said in a speech after the inauguration of the Climate Change Academy of Albay in Legazpi City.

With the help of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and other agencies, the government was also able to release multi-hazard maps to 13 provinces in the country, the President said.

Currently, the government is preparing the release of 3D mapping for Metro Manila, he added.

“Ramdam na rin po ng karamihan sa inyo na napagbuti na natin ang ating weather forecasting sa pagsasanib puwersa ng Department of Science and Technology (DOST) at nang Philippine Atmospheric and Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA),” the President said.

The government not only relies on modern technology for forecasting, he said, noting that with the help of several government agencies, it is now promoting the use of coco coir as erosion control material.

Also the government, through the National Greening Program was able to plant 35 million seedlings in more than 75,000 hectares of land in the entire country. The government targets to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of land from 2011 to 2016, the chief executive said.

While the government focuses on the security of the nation’s future, at the same time, it will fight the changing weather conditions with the National Climate Change Action Plan, President Aquino said.

“Sa komprehensibong planong ito nakabalangkas ang mga espesipikong mga programa at mga estratehiya para sa paghahanda natin sa climate change mula 2011 hanggang 2028. Nakatuon po ito sa ilang prayoridad: food security, water sufficiency, environmental and ecological stability, human security, climate friendly industry and services, sustainable energy, at knowledge and capacity development,” he said.

The President signed this week the National Climate Action Plan in compliance with the country’s international commitments, especially with the United Nations Framework for Climate Change Convention.

The action plan will become the basis of any assistance that will come from industrialized countries once the release of a green fund is approved in Durban, South Africa late this month.

The Philippines is joining other countries in the climate change conference in South Africa on November 28 until early December to discuss assistance from rich countries to developing countries gravely affected by changing weather conditions. (PCOO)

Aquino orders extensive review of major infrastructure projects of government

: President Benigno S. Aquino III said he has instructed concerned government agencies to review all the projects under the public-private partnership (PPP) before major infrastructure projects could be built.

The president was asked on Friday by reporters about the government plans on constructing new airports and seaports under the PPP program. The chief executive is in Legazpi City for the inauguration of the Climate Change Academy of Albay.

“Ang tinitingnan diyan ay ang Daraga, kung ito ang pinaka-feasible. Ang inutos lang natin i-review lahat ng mga projects lalo na doon sa PPP program. Meron po tayong mga batayan na dapat masunod,” he said when asked about the construction of Daraga airport in Albay.

The president said he wants a review of the projects to ensure that the government is building the right project at the right price and right contractors. He also wants to make sure that projects to be built are constructed on the right time to ensure full benefit to the people.

“Lahat nitong mga prinsipyong itong batayan ay kailangan matugunan para masabi natin na hindi tayo gumawa ng monumento lang, na may ginawa tayong may saysay sa pangangailangan ng sambayanan,” he said.

The government also received offers from a foreign company to improve the roll-on, roll-off (RO-RO) system from Luzon to Mindanao, drastically cutting travel time significantly, the President said.

“Pero kailangan nating siyasatin, pag-aralan na mabuti iyong kanilang mungkahing plano para mabawasan ang gastos ng taumbayan at mapakinabangan sa lalong madaling panahon. Kasama na nga itong airport ng Daraga,” he said. (PCOO)

Public needs to help government in protecting coastal waters from illegal fishing

-- President Benigno S. Aquino III said that his administration needs the help of the public in protecting the country’s coastal waters from illegal fishing activities.

President Aquino, who led the inauguration of the Climate Change Academy of Albay here in Legazpi City, made the statement during an interview with reporters here in Legazpi City, Albay province.

“We have 36,000 nautical miles of coastline,” the President said. “We need the help of people in their respective constituencies to share their information with us, so we can apprehend people who are violating our laws.”

The President noted that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has already deployed a vessel to intensify its effort to curb illegal fishing in the country, and some 11 commercial fishing vessels have been apprehended by the said agency.

He said that he will also task the Philippine Coast Guard to help the BFAR, as well as the Philippine National Police maritime to stop the illegal fishing activities in the country.

Catholic bishops in Bicol have asked President Aquino to protect the region’s coastal waters from illegal fishing activities in the province.

The President emphasized that the government needs the help of the public to go after the perpetrators of the illegal fishing activities in the country, noting that the government has only few patrol vessels.

“Kailangan natin ang tulong ng taumbayan para masabi nila sa atin kung saan sila may nakikitang mga ilegal na gawain, para mahabol, matukoy, maaresto at maparusahan ang mga may kasalanan sa ating mga batas,” he said. (PCOO)

Thursday, 24 November 2011

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, November 24, 2011

Coloma assures families of victims of Ampatuan Massacre of justice

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio “Sonny” B. Coloma Jr. assured the families of the victims in the Ampatuan Massacre that the Aquino government has been exerting unyielding efforts to serve justice and to realize reforms in the criminal justice system as part of President Benigno S. Aquino III’s social contract with the Filipino people.

In his message during the commemoration of the second year anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre at the National Press Club in Manila on Wednesday, Coloma expressed sincere sympathy to the victims as he cited the government’s determination in improving the justice system in the country.

“Sa ngalan po ng ating mahal na Pangulo, Benigno Noynoy Aquino III, pinararating ko po ang ating patuloy na pakikiisa sa mga pamilya at naulila ng ating mga bayaning mamamahayag at peryodista na nagbuwis ng buhay dalawang taon na ang nakararaan sa lalawigan ng Maguindanao.

Isa po sa mga haligi ng social contract ng ating Pangulo with the Filipino people ay iyon pong paglutas sa krimen, iyong pagpapalakas sa ating criminal justice system,” Coloma said.

“Tayo po ay determinado na usigin ang mga akusado at dalhin sila sa proseso ng katarungan, habang nililitis po ang kasong ito patuloy po ang pagpupursigi ng ating pamahalaan na ipatupad ang mga reporma sa ating criminal justice system. Talaga pong malakas ang determinasyon ng ating Pangulo na pabilisin iyong pag-ikot ng mga gulong ng hustisya sapagkat napakahalaga po ito sa pagtupad ng ating social contract with the Filipino people,” he added.

Coloma said that part of these reforms is the synchronization of elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with the national and local elections to end the culture of impunity and political dynasty in the region.

“Kasama na rin po within the context of the Maguindanao massacre iyon pong pagtatama ng pamamahala doon sa bahaging iyon ng ating bansa, kaya nga po nagkaroon ng inisyatiba ang ating Pangulo doon sa synchronization of ARMM elections with the national and local elections para po di na maulit yung kaganapan na merong isang pamilya o grupo ng iilan na kayang kontrolin ang resulta ng halalan at dahil doon ay maghasik sila ng lagim at pamamahala na walang paggalang sa batas ng tao at batas ng Diyos,” Coloma noted.

“Hindi po tayo natitinag sa ating pagnanais na makamtan ang katarungan… hindi po tayo nawawalan ng loob… kaya po tayo nagtitipon ngayon upang wakasan ang culture of impunity. Sa ngalan ng ating Pangulo nakikiisa po tayo sa obserbasyong ito ng Maguindanao massacre,” he said.

A holy mass celebrated by Father Asis Bajao, OSA was held for the victims followed by the unveiling of the commemorative marker dedicated to the fallen journalists and a candle-lighting ceremony. Yellow balloons were also released symbolizing the search for justice.

The Maguindanao massacre, also known as the Ampatuan massacre after the town where the mass graves were found, occurred on the morning of November 23, 2009. Mass graves were found in the town of Ampatuan in Maguindanao province.

The victims were on their way to file a certificate of candidacy for Esmael Mangudadatu, vice mayor of Buluan town. The group, including Mangudadatu's wife, his two sisters, journalists, lawyers, aides, and motorists who were witnesses or were mistakenly identified as part of the convoy, were kidnapped and brutally killed. (PCOO)

Coloma cites women’s role in peace building

The “primordial” role of women in building peace was cited by Presidential Communications and Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma, Jr. in his speech keynoting the Asian Women Forum held at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila on Thursday.

Coloma said that women’s actions to foster peace among themselves and their community, along with the aims of the AWF, are well documented and provide proof of their achievement.

He noted a social experiment conducted by Dr. Sanjit “Bunker” Roy, an Indian social activist and educator who founded the Barefoot College in Tilonia, India in 1972 that tapped “illiterate grandmothers who are tolerant, patient and empathetic” to help bring electricity and water to one of the “driest” areas in India.

“From their small village, the Tilonians have deployed their barefoot technology in providing nearly a million people in India with potable water through hand pumps and piped water supply drawing from underground reservoir and storage facilities,” Coloma said.

“There are now almost 1,300 schools collecting 93 million liters of rainwater and providing drinking water to 500,000 children in 16 states. Some 100 million liters of rainwater have been collected through almost 100 open dug wells in 37 villages in desert conditions where the annual rainfall is less than 300 millimeters,” he added.

Coloma also paid homage to former President Corazon Aquino whom he said spent her 72nd birthday with Center for Community Transformation (CCT) partners in Tatalon, Quezon City in order to bring hope to the country by spreading word about the CCT partners who have managed to overcome poverty through hard work and prayers.

“After the meeting, Mrs. Aquino addressed the people in Teresa’s community. She reiterated her mission of giving hope to Filipinos, and inspire them with CCT’s success in its campaign. She thanked CCT President Ruth S. Callanta for introducing her to the group’s activities and sought her assistance for the microfinance project that she intended to initiate,” Coloma said.

In order to further spread the word of the AWF, Coloma offered the services of the PCOO “as your partner in propagating your advocacy.”

“In summary, whether in Tilonia, Rajashtan, India, or in Tatalon, Quezon City, Philippines; whether we are tapping illiterate grandmothers or dedicated housewives; whether the program or project is initiated by government or the private, non-governmental organizations; whether we are working with Hindus or Christians, or peoples of other faiths --- the following propositions of your Forum are substantially validated, affirmed and reinforced in the crucible of real-world praxis:

First: Women are not only potential peacemakers and agents of development. They are, in fact, exemplars and role models, movers and shakers, and leaders in people empowerment that promote ecologically sustainable development; second: Women can be effective initiators of inter-faith dialogue and catalysts for social change; and, third: Women of faith are builders of peace,” Coloma stressed.

The AWF, which is organized by the Asian Conference of Religions for Peace-Women’s Committee and the Asia and Pacific Women of Faith Network in collaboration with UST, aims to gather women leaders in various fields in a dialogue on the increasing role of women and mothers to actively engage in peace building efforts in conflict situations amidst environmental degradation in the light of multi-religious traditions and cooperation.

Specifically, the Forum aims to: 1) promote awareness on the potential of women as peacemakers and agents of development; 2) share experiences and best practices on women empowerment especially in ecologically sustainable development processes; and, 3) create synergy and strengthen the Asia and Pacific Women of Faith Network in its advocacy and interfaith initiatives. (PCOO)

Malacanang welcomes decision of doctors of former President to testify on her condition

Malacanang welcomed the decision of doctors of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to appear before the Supreme Court (SC) to testify on the condition of their patient saying their testimonies will determine whether or not her illness is life-threatening, a Palace official said on Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda issued the statement during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Thursday in response to the news reports that the doctors of former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Arroyo are willing to appear before the SC to give their testimonies.

"We welcome that. We also would like to hear from them. Like we said, the doctors themselves will be in the position to determine the actual medical condition of the former President," Lacierda said.

According to the news reports, Marilen Lagniton, vice president of St. Luke’s Medical Center’s corporate affairs department, said they will appear before the High Tribunal if they are called to testify on the medical condition of their patient.

In a motion filed before the SC, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) requested that the doctors of Arroyo be summoned to settle doubts on her medical condition. The SC has yet to rule on the motion filed by Solicitor General Anselmo Cadiz to summon Arroyo's doctors.

"First and foremost, we want to settle the issue if there was an emergency medical condition? Was the illness of former President Arroyo a life-threatening one? And is it true that the doctors of St. Luke’s, in particular, and the doctors in the Philippines in general cannot treat former President Arroyo,?" Lacierda said.

Lacierda said the camp of Arroyo insisted that she needs to seek medical treatment abroad since her illness is life-threatening. However, Lacierda noted that the government maintains its position that Arroyo is not suffering from a life-threatening condition based on her medical certificate.

"And let me state also, the medical certificate submitted by doctors [Juliet] Cervantes and [Mario] Ver before the Supreme Court showed that the [former] President was not under any threat of…was not under any life-threatening condition. And that’s why we have maintained that the [former] President was not suffering from a life-threatening condition. In fact, in that particular medical certificate, the doctors have said that her condition was improving," Lacierda said. (PCOO)

Malacanang vows support for sports development programs for athletes

Malacanang assured its support to sports development programs for the Filipino athletes to further hone their innate athletic talents and ensure their sterling performance in various international games.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, during a media briefing in Malacanang on Thursday, commended the Filipino athletes for their performance in the recently concluded 26th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games saying that the Aquino government is bent on concentrating on programs that will further develop athletes in sporting events where they are most likely to excel.

“We commend them for their performance in the Southeast Asian Games… we do not view that as poor performance, certainly there is always room for improvement but we congratulate our Philippine contingent for their noble performance in the Southeast Asian Games,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda noted that by concentrating on these sports disciplines, the country has a better chance of improving its standings in the medal haul.

“There are 52 sports associations right now, we believe that if we can concentrate on the sports that we have a strong chance of excelling and pour our support on those sports that we believe we can perform much better… I think we will have a better return on our investment… the President would like to see that the performance of our athletes is supported by the government funding,” Lacierda said.

“Yes, we will support the athletes,” he added.

The Philippines finished sixth place in the SEA Games held in Indonesia bagging 36 gold medals or 7.4 per cent of the total gold medals at stake which has a total of 483.

Apart from the 36 gold, the Philippine team also brought home 55 silvers and 76 bronzes from the biennial meet. The sports events where the Filipinos excelled include tennis, wushu, boxing, fin swimming, basketball, baseball and cycling, among others. (PCOO)

Pilipinas Natin moves to Pampanga

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio “Sonny” B. Coloma Jr. will be the guest of honor during the launching of the Aquino administration’s “Pilipinas Natin” program which aims to inculcate the spirit of volunteerism in every Filipino including the youth and involve them in the government’s nation-building efforts.

As previously done in other provinces across the country, the “Pilipinas Natin” launching ceremony will be held at the Dr. Emigio Bondoc Convention Center in San Luis, Pampanga at 7 p.m., on November 26 (Saturday) where some 1,100 volunteers and 2,000 students from Pampanga-based schools and communities from several cities and municipalities including San Fernando, Angeles, Macabebe and nearby provinces like Bulacan, Laguna, Rizal, Nueva Ecija and Metro Manila are expected to be mobilized to repair and rehabilitate the typhoon-stricken public school buildings in the area.

Organizers said the two-day refurbishing activity epitomizes the values and mission that the “Pilipinas Natin” program promotes.

Other activities lined up during the event are the “Panata sa Pilipinas Natin” to be led by Secretary Coloma to be followed by various performances from participating youth-oriented groups and organizations.

The launch ceremony takes place in partnership between the Pilipinas Natin with the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines (TOSP) for the “iTayo Na! School Rebuilding Challenge.”

“iTayo Na! The School Rebuilding Challenge” focuses on the rehabilitation of public school buildings in the town of San Luis that were ravaged by the typhoon “Pedring”. The said school buildings were completely submerged in floodwater for more than two weeks destroying classroom facilities, teaching materials as well as school materials of the students per se.

The destruction ultimately weighed down the learning process of the children depriving them the best quality of education. This prompted the establishment of the iTayo Na! to respond to the important and urgent needs of the nation’s future.

Capping the event’s activities is a concert performance by the band ‘Imago’ following games and productions numbers from the local groups. (PCOO)

PIA News Dispatch - Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Aquino leads NBI 75th anniversary celebration, PRAISE awards ceremony

President Benigno S. Aquino III led this year’s ceremony honoring the distinguished personnel and units of the National Bureau of Investigation at the Bureau’s headquarters along Taft Avenue in Manila on Wednesday.

The awarding ceremony was held simultaneous with the Bureau’s celebration of its 75th Anniversary which has for its theme: “NBI: Ang Inyong Kaagapay sa Tuwid na Daan.”

The President, assisted by NBI Director Magtanggol Gatdula and Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, presented plaques and awards representing the NBI-Program on Awards and Incentives for Service Excellence (NBI PRAISE) to 22 officials and employees of the NBI for exemplary performance dutiful diligence to their work.

The awardees are:

I. Best Organizational Unit
• Central Visayas Regional Office
• Dagupan District Office
• Anti-Human Trafficking Division
• Reaction Arrest and Interdiction Division
• Program Management Office
• Budget Division
• Questioned Document Division

II. Oustanding Case Award
• Reaction, Arrest and Interdiction Division

III. Agent Achiever of the Year
• Christopher Mesa, Cavite Regional Office
• Renato Garbo III, Cavite District Office
• Reynaldo Remo, Anti-Human Trafficking Division
• Jerome Bomediano, Reaction, Arrest and Interdiction Office

IV. Special Investigator of the Year
• Rogel Intia, Bicol Regional Office
• Roberto Gonzales, Dagupan District Office
• Danilo Garay, Anti-Human Trafficking Division
• Joel Otic, Reaction, Arrest and Interdiction Office

V. Best Employee of the Year
• Merly Dion, Internal Affairs Division
• Tammy Uy, Northeaster Mindanao Regional Office
• Chona Pring, Anti-Graft Division
• Luida Rivera, Personnel Division
• Evelyn Ignacio, Medico-Legal Division
• Norma Panlilio, Cashier Section
• Jason Domingo, Reasearch and Analysis Division

In his speech, the President lauded the awardees and the officials and employees of the NBI for their dedication and selfless sacrifice, saying the he and the nation are grateful for their work.

“Kasabay ng pagdiriwang ng inyong ika-pitumpu’t limang anibersaryo, binibigyang-pugay din natin ang mga katangi-tangi ninyong kawani,” the President said.

“Higit sa mga gantimpala’t parangal na ipagkakaloob natin sa kanila, ay ang wagas na pasasalamat ng sambayanan sa kanilang dedikasyon at sakripisyo, sa kanilang pagiging huwarang lingkod-bayan, at sa pangingibabaw ng kanilang adhikaing isantabi ang kanilang sariling interes para sa kapakanan ng nakararami,” he added.

The President added that through NBI Director Gatdula, he was sure that the Bureau will remain on track towards the straight and just path.

“Buo ang tiwala kong kaliwa’t kanan man ang banta sa inyong buhay, o suhulan man kayo ng ga-bundok na salapi, mananaig pa rin sa inyong puso’t diwa ang tungkulin ninyong ipatupad ang batas, at ang obligasyon ninyong manatili sa tuwid na landas,” the President said. (PCOO)

Malacañang declares November 25 as special non-working day in Sarangani

Malacanang has declared November 25, 2011 as a special non-working day in the province of Sarangani in celebration of its 19th Foundation Day anniversary and the 9th Munah’to Festival on November 24-26, 2011.

By virtue of Proclamation No. 291 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on Nov. 18, 2011, Malacanang declared November 25 which falls on a Friday as a special non-working day to give the people of the province the full opportunity to celebrate and participate in these two important occasions.

Sarangani became an independent province in 1992 through Republic Act 7228.

Preparations are all set for the celebration of the MunaTo festival with activities lined up to showcase Sarangani’s “history, culture and resources.”

MunaTo was derived from the native vernacular meaning “unang tao” or “first people,” the early inhabitants of Sarangani who passed on a rich cultural heritage. It also refers to the makers of the 2000-year old anthropomorphic burial jars discovered in Maitum. The burials jars are now in the National Museum.

A MunaTo Fun Run: against global warming from the Capitol grounds to barangay Maribulan in Alabel will be held on Nov. 24.

A hero’s welcome for the internationally acclaimed boxing icon and Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao from his recent victory in Las Vegas is set on November 24. (PCOO)

Malacanang assures Congress of early disbursements of funds that will benefit Filipinos

Malacanang assured Congress of early disbursements of government’s funds in programs that will directly benefit the people and empower them to become productive citizens, a Palace official said on Wednesday.

"We can assure the legislature that we’ll be spending much, much earlier. Compared to this year when we started spending only in June, we will start spending come January," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during a regular press briefing in Malacanang.

The Aquino government, through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), allocates funds for next year's priority programs to improve the business climate, develop infrastructure, accelerate agricultural infrastructure, and increase investments in health and education.

Acknowledging the importance to disburse the 2012 budget as early as possible, Lacierda said the government came out with corrective measures to avoid delays in the implementation of programs next year.

"Basically last year was a period that was spent in assessing the infrastructure with respect to disbursements. As you know, for instance, in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) we’re looking at mechanisms by which we can correct the system. It was addressed by Secretary Rogelio Singson. We will have no problem spending as early as January," Lacierda said. (PCOO)

Qatari Ambassador pays farewell call on President Aquino

Qatari Ambassador Abdulla Ahmed Yousif Ahmed Al-Mutawaa paid his farewell call on President Benigno S. Aquino III on Wednesday by thanking the government for its support during his stint in the Philippines.

During the launch of the Qatar Embassy website Ambassador Al-Mutawaa described his first impression of the Philippines saying: “the warmth of the Filipino people was the first thing that captured my senses.”

“I have visited several fascinating places that have truly enticed my passion for nature, but furthermore, I was astonished by this country's cultural diversity,” he said in his message referring to his first visit to the country in 2005.

Among the achievements of Ambassador Al-Mutawaa in the Philippines include the signing of Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation (Doha 2008), signing of Agreement on Additional Protocol to the 1997 Philippines-Qatar Agreement on the Regulation of Filipino Manpower Employment (Doha 2008).

Al-Mutawaa assisted the Philippines-Qatar bilateral agreements on trade and investments, agriculture and fisheries, education, cultural cooperation and health.

He also spearheaded the cooperation between the Philippines and Qatar to combat transnational organized crime; and the waiving of visa requirements for diplomatic and special passports. The outgoing ambassador also initiated Qatar-Philippines Business Council in 2008.

Al-Mutawaa, who is also the vice dean of the diplomatic corps, was designated Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Qatar to the Republic of the Philippines in January 2006.

Prior to his posting in the Philippines, he represented the Qatar government in Libya, Japan, Syria, Palestine and Cuba.

The diplomatic relations between Qatar and the Philippines was established in 1981. The Arab country hosts more than 246,000 overseas Filipino workers. (PCOO)

Malacanang reiterates call to fast track trial of Maguindanao massacre

Malacañang reiterated its call on the judiciary to fast track the trial on the Maguindanao massacre case for the welfare of the victims’ relatives who are still crying for justice two years after the gruesome crime transpired.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda issued this statement during a press briefing on Wednesday as he informed the public that President Benigno S. Aquino III remains committed on his promise to provide protection for the witnesses and the victims’ relatives.

Lacierda said the Aquino administration is doing everything in its power to serve justice for the slain victims of the massacre but recognized at the same time that the fulfillment of this particular objective does not lie entirely in the hands of Malacañang.

“We would wish that the process, the judicial process, [can] be fast-tracked. This case is not in the hands entirely of the executive branch or the prosecution,” said Lacierda as he conveyed respect for the authority of the co-equal judicial branch on this matter.

Lacierda said the prosecution which is under the executive branch through the Department of Justice “share the public’s concern” that the hearing of the Maguindanao massacre has been dragging for quite a while now and they would “hope that the judiciary would take a second look at the pace” of the trial.

“It is within the discretion of the trial judge. It is within the discretion of the judiciary. We, ourselves in the Executive branch, share the public’s concern that this case is taking so long and we would hope that the judiciary would take a second look at the pace of the Maguindanao trial so that justice may be obtained within this term, within the administration of President Aquino,” Lacierda stressed.

Lacierda added that Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo is currently in Maguindanao to oversee the efforts being undertaken by the forces of the Philippine National Police (PNP) that are still going after suspects who remain at large.

“Patuloy po nilang hinahanap ang mga hindi pa nahuhuli pero ang mahalaga po, doon sa mga nahuli na po, lalo na sa mga principal ng kaso, ang aming pakiusap ay ituloy na rin ang kaso. Marami pong ginagawang tactics po ang mga abogado ng akusado and so understandably medyo bumabagal [ang takbo ng kaso],” he said.

President Aquino once mentioned during a forum with members of the foreign media organizations last month that the members of the prosecution panel under the DOJ “have been exercising all the necessary steps within their purview to be able to expedite the whole process.”

The Maguindanao massacre took place in November 23, 2009 when a private armed group attacked the convoy of then gubernatorial candidate Esmael Mangudadatu, leaving 58 civilians—among them 34 journalists—killed and buried in a makeshift mass grave.

Maguindanao has since been placed under State of Emergency by virtue of Proclamation No. 1946 issued by the previous president which President Aquino maintained in order to keep the entire province in tight security. (PCOO)

Malacanang says state of emergency in Maguindanao remains in effect

As the country commemorates the second year of the Maguindanao massacre, Malacanang clarified on Wednesday that the state of emergency in Maguindanao remains in effect contrary to reports that it has been lifted.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the state of emergency in Maguindanao is still being enforced to ensure the peace and order situation in the province.

The country commemorates Wednesday, November 23, the second year of the Maguindanao massacre, the bloodiest single-day killings in the country’s electoral history.

In a media briefing in Malacanang, Lacierda said President Benigno S. Aquino III knows the concerns of the relatives of the victims of the Maguindanao massacre.

He recalled that the President met the families and relatives of the victims even during the presidential campaign last year adding that the Chief Executive promised to provide security to make sure that the witnesses are protected.

The Palace spokesman said that fast-tracking the Maguindanao massacre trial now lies solely lies in the hands of the judiciary and not the Executive Branch.

“We ourselves in the Executive Branch share the public’s concern that this case is taking so long and we hope that the Judiciary would take a second look at the pace of the Maguindanao trial so that justice may be obtained within this term, within the administration of President Aquino,” Lacierda said.

Former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo placed the provinces of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato City under a state of emergency on November 24, 2009, following the massacre. Fifty-seven people died in the brutal killings.

The state of emergency was declared in the said localities to prevent and suppress lawless elements in the area, according to a Palace statement at that time. The powerful Ampatuan clan, most of them now in government custody, has been linked to the killings. (PCOO)

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, November 22, 2011

South Korean President lauds Aquino for ‘outstanding leadership’

South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak lauded President Benigno S. Aquino III for his “outstanding leadership,” and assured that the Republic of Korea will remain the partner and friend of the Philippines.

President Benigno S. Aquino III hosted a State Dinner in honor of the South Korean leader and his delegation at the Malacanang’s Rizal Hall on Monday evening.

During his speech President Lee expressed his “deepest admiration” to the “outstanding leadership” of President Aquino.

“I know that since assuming office, he has strenuously carried out steadfast reform both political and social, which has yielded substantial results,” the South Korean leader said.

“We believe that due to that outstanding leadership, the Philippine economy as well as the country as a whole has been able to achieve much despite the global economic difficulties,” he added.

President Lee was in the country for a three-day state visit upon the invitation of President Aquino. The two leaders had a bilateral meeting Monday morning in Malacanan Palace.

He said that during his bilateral meeting with President Aquino, he reaffirmed the close partnership between the Republic of Korea and the Philippines.

“It has been more than 60 years since the two countries first established diplomatic relationship and it has been 60 years since the Philippines came to our aid during the Korean War,” President Lee said.

President Lee also took the opportunity to thank the Korean War veterans here in the Philippines for their "service" during the Korean war.

“It may have been several decades since the brave soldiers from the Philippines came to help my country and my people, but as time goes by our appreciation and gratitude only grow stronger,” he said.

President Lee said that the people of Korea would always remember the “sacrifice, dedication and the service that the people of the Philippines gave to Korea during times of darkness.”

He also assured that the Aquino administration that his country will remain the Philippines' closest partner and friend adding that his visit to the Philippines will elevate the partnership between the two countries.

“We will continue to strengthen not only our economic and commerce and trade relationship but also on the international stage, as we have always done for the last several decades,” President Lee said.

“Our two countries will remain steadfast partners and friends as we face the global challenges of today,” the South Korean leader said. (PCOO)

Aquino says PHL remains committed to advance relations with South Korea

The Philippines remains committed to advance its relationship with South Korea, President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Monday.

“The government and people of the Philippines are committed to the advancement of relations between our two nations,” the Chief Executive said as he proposed a toast during a State Dinner in honor of visiting South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak at Malacanang’s Rizal Hall.

“We will build on six decades of shared sacrifice and idealism by working with you whether in bilateral meetings or multilateral fora to ensure peace, development and cooperation in our region and throughout the world,” the President said.

The President also expressed admiration to the people of South Korea for their fast-recovery despite the challenges that they had to go through during the previous several years.

“I remember during our own Martial Law years, when I was but a mere child, my father (the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.), who also first introduced us to Korean cuisine, would relate to the family his stories about the deprivations that your country had to go through,” he stressed.

“He was very impressed with your people’s strength of character, your perseverance, your drive to strengthen your institutions in a single-minded focus to achieve the vision that your leaders have laid out,” he added.

“His Excellency, your people have done so much with so little to begin with, and it is my fervent hope that increased people-to-people engagements can bring about a cross pollination of mindsets so that my people can also recover from the traumas we have experienced, and with strength and pride join the community of nations in building a better world for humanity,” he said. (PCOO)

Aquino to inaugurate Climate Change Academy in Albay

President Benigno S. Aquino III will lead the inauguration of the Climate Change Academy in Albay on Friday in connection with the observance of the Climate Change Consciousness week.

This year’s climate change observance will have a theme “convergence on climate change” which is expected to elicit a higher level of climate change consciousness among media practitioners and eventually the general public.

In a press briefing in Malacanang on Tuesday, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda underscored the importance of institutionalizing the fight against climate change as well as raising public awareness through the media.

“Ang Climate Change Academy is first of its kind in the world, wala pa pong ganyan sa buong mundo. It’s essentially a knowledge management institution,” Salceda said.

Given the vulnerability of the Philippines, being the third most vulnerable country in the world, Salceda said battling or reducing the impacts of climate change is a paramount concern of the government.

“Mahalaga po lalung-lalo na para sa atin na para hindi natin makalimutan yung ating mga natutunan noong Ondoy at Pepeng na halos 3 percent ng GDP [gross domestic product] ang nawala sa isang iglap, wala pa sa anim na oras ay nasira ang buong GDP, yung kinayod ng buong ekonomiya for one year sa loob ng anim na oras nawala po dahil sa isang bagyo,” he said noting the impact of typhoons to the country’s economy.

Other countries that send their participants to the Climate Change Academy in Albay include those from Laos, Myanmar, Kenya, Nepal and many others, Salceda said.

Also, the local government of Albay is also holding the Philippine Media Conference on Climate Change Adaptation on November 24 to 26 that will gather media practitioners and foreign correspondents for a three-day workshop to tackle climate change and the impacts of natural disasters.

The workshop is aimed at promoting the importance of awareness to climate vulnerabilities and the need to accelerate the achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the local level. It will also advocate the use of science-based analytical and planning tools on climate change adaptation and disaster risk management.

Among the expected participants include the Philippine Information Agency, Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, the Malacanang Press Corps and other media organizations.

The three-day gathering is sponsored by the Provincial government of Albay, Climate Change Commission, Presidential Communications Operations Office, Presidential Adviser for Environmental Protection, Presidential Adviser on Climate Change, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Department of Science and Technology (DOST), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Kapisanan ng mga Broadcaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), National Press Club (NPC), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Spanish government. (PCOO)

Philippines adopts National Climate Change Action Plan

President Benigno S. Aquino III convened the Climate Change Commission to adopt the National Climate Action Plan in compliance with the country’s international commitments especially to the United Nations Framework for Climate Change Convention.

President Aquino chairs the Climate Change Commission, an independent and autonomous body that has the similar status of a national government agency.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, who met President Aquino at the Palace Tuesday, said the plan is about adaptation to climate change and mitigating its impact particularly on the economy.

The action plan will also become the basis of any assistance that will come from industrialized countries in Europe and the US, which are being blamed for global warming because of massive use of fossil fuels in their industries.

“It’s a critical balance, but I think in the case of the Philippines, it is biased towards adaptation. Adaptation being that you fight the impact of climate change. Mitigation, because you fight climate change itself,” Salceda said in a media briefing in Malacanang on Tuesday prior to his meeting with the President.

Asked by reporters how prepared is the Philippines about changing weather patterns, Salceda said the country is one of the most well-prepared countries in the world putting in place legislations and guidelines that address climate change.

“Isa tayo sa pinakahanda. Pero hanggang kailan tayo tatagal, iyon na lang po ang diperensya. Kasi kung tataun-taunin ka ba naman na 3 percent ang tatanggalin sa ekonomiya mo, iyong pinag-ipunan mo laging nawawaldas sa wala. You keep rebuilding, you need to earn the same amount of gross value added in the economy, you have to keep investing on your gross domestic capital formation,” he said.

On the average, Salceda said, the country is losing to climate change about 0.31 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). It may look insignificant but some provinces like Albay is hurt by the impact, he added.

The national action plan will be presented to the climate change conference to be held in Durban, South Africa, and it will be the basis of compensatory measures that rich countries have committed to pay.

“Ang national climate action plan is a requirement so that the EU and Japan, Australia will know just where—kung saan sila papasok para iyong kanilang kino-commit para po sa climate change ay puwedeng gamitin ng Pilipinas,” he said.

Included in the national plan are the guidelines and framework on how the country can use the assistance once it is approved in Durban.

The Philippines will join other countries in pushing for financial assistance to fight climate change as the country’s negotiators leave late this month for Durban.

Last December, negotiators agreed to create a green climate fund that could be accessed by vulnerable countries like the Philippines. They are expected to tackle in the Durban meeting the way to get the money once the fund is approved. (PCOO)

Monday, 21 November 2011

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, November 21, 2011

PHL, Korea sign five agreements for development assistance

The Philippines and Korea further solidified its relations spanning 60 years by signing five agreements on furthering agriculture, electricity, and development assistance between the two countries.

The signing ceremony was held at Malacañang’s Reception Hall on the occasion of the three-day State Visit of Republic of Korea President Lee Myung-Bak to the Philippines on Monday.

The first two agreements, signed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Kim Sung-hwan, center on simplifying the processing and obtaining of loans and grants.

The Framework Agreement for Grant Aid between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the Republic of Korea will facilitate the processing of grant projects while the Framework Agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the Republic of Korea Concerning Loans from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund for the Years 2011 through 2013 enables the Philippine government to obtain soft loans of up to $500-million from the Republic of Korea.

The third agreement, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Energy and the Ministry of Knowledge Economy involves the setting up of a power plant in the Subic Bay Economic Zone using environment friendly technology to address the medium-term and long-term projected electricity needs of the Luzon grid.

This agreement was signed between DoE Secretary Jose Almendras and Knowledge Economy Minister Hong Suk Woo.

The fourth and fifth agreements are between the Department of Agriculture of the Philippines, Agriculture Minister Suh Kyu-yong and the Korea Export Import Bank President Kim Yong-hwan.

The MoU between the Department of Agriculture and the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on the Multi-Industry Cluster Project in the Philippines is a type of public-private partnership business where the efficient use of agricultural resources of both counties is promoted while the MoU between the DA and Korea EXIM Bank on the Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project Stage II is an irrigation project intended to significantly contribute to sustaining rice self-sufficiency levels by 2013.

Presidents Aquino and Lee witnessed the signing of the agreements.

In his speech, President Aquino cited the strengthening relations between the two countries and vowed to “steadily advance our bilateral relationship to reach even greater heights.”

“I have full confidence that our meeting this morning has helped position our two countries towards a more positive, dynamic and nurturing friendship that will best serve the mutual interest of the Filipino and Korean peoples,” President Aquino said.

For his part, President Lee cited the “limitless potential” the Philippines has due to its highly skilled labor force and abundance of natural resources.

“And in that regard, cooperation between Korea and the Philippines is also limitless as well,” President Lee said.

The Republic of Korea is the fifth largest trade partner of the Philippines with bilateral trade reaching $6.08-million in 2010. It is also the third top investor in the Philippines with investments reaching $691.3-million. (PCOO)

South Korean President lauds President Aquino's inclusive growth policy

Visiting Republic of Korea President Lee Myung Bak conveyed his ‘deepest admiration’ to President Benigno S. Aquino III for his policy of inclusive growth which enabled the country’s economy to remain upbeat despite the ongoing global economic crisis.

President Lee, who is on a three-day state visit to the Philippines, paid a courtesy call on President Aquino in Malacañang Monday morning which was followed by an expanded bilateral talk with their respective Cabinet members where the two leaders exchanged views and conveyed gratitude to each other.

In a statement issued after the signing of five agreements for development assistance between Korea and the Philippines at Malacañang’s Reception Hall, President Lee said the 7.6 economic growth posted by the Aquino administration is an “outstanding number” envied by other economies.

“Despite the global economic crisis that all of the countries are going through, the Philippine economy posted remarkable growth: 7.6 percent. This is an outstanding number as the envy of many countries around the world and also you are on a path towards continuous growth,” he said.

President Lee credited this particular achievement by President Aquino based on the “tremendous vision and resolve” he has demonstrated toward implementing this inclusive growth policy in order to provide Filipino people with a better future and prosperity for all.

President Aquino, for his part, noted that the Republic of Korea is the Philippines’ fifth largest trade partner with bilateral trade reaching $6.08 billion and was the third top investor in the country last year with investments that reached $693.1 million.

“The Republic of Korea and its business sector have continued to display confidence in the economic prospects and opportunities found in the Philippines and, for this, I thank them,” President Aquino said.

Bilateral relations between the Republic of Korea and the Philippines in terms of trade prospects are expected to grow following the agreements signed involving the agriculture and energy departments of both countries. (PCOO)

President Aquino commends Korea's foreign workforce program

President Benigno S. Aquino III commended on Monday Republic of Korea’s foreign workforce introduction program that ensures the proper treatment of overseas Filipino workers employed in South Korea.

In a statement read during the State Visit of South Korean President Lee Myung-BaK in Malacañang Monday morning, President Aquino said Korea’s Employment Permit System (EPS) will also ensure that OFWs receive benefits in relation to their jobs.

“I commend the exemplary foreign workforce introduction program of the Republic of Korea, called the Employment Permit System, or the EPS, which earned the United Nations Public Service Award last June,” President Aquino said.

“The EPS system ensures that the more than 20,000 Filipinos working in the ROK will receive the proper treatment and the benefits commensurate to the critical jobs they perform toward the growth of the Korean economy,” he added.

The Republic of Korea is the fifth largest trade partner of the Philippines with bilateral trade reaching $6.08-million in 2010. It is also the third top investor in the Philippines with investments reaching $691.3-million. (PCOO)

Strengthening relations between PHL, Korea underscore need to "seize" more investment opportunities – Aquino

The more than 60 years of relations between the Philippines and the Republic of Korea that has been marked by ever increasing trade and exchanges stressed the need to further extract “much greater investment opportunities” for the two countries, President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Monday.

In his speech keynoting the Korea-Philippine Business Forum at the Manila Hotel Monday afternoon, the President said these investments can be made in the fields of agriculture, education, travel, health services, and communications.

The Republic of Korea is the fifth largest trade partner of the Philippines with bilateral trade reaching $6.08-million in 2010. It is also the third top investor in the Philippines with investments reaching $691.3-million.

“These figures underscore the importance of seizing much greater investment opportunities for our countries in the years to come engaging an expanded trade both in volume, value and variety of goods,” the President said.

“As the quality of life in Korea continues to improve, the demand for services in the fields of education, travel, health services, and communications are also increasing,” he added.

The President further pointed out that since Korea imports around 70 percent of its agricultural product needs, greater business prospects for Filipino exporters of agricultural products, such as frozen vegetables, sauce preparations, confectionaries, fishery and fresh fruits, are opening up.

“Now with a stable economic environment, a credible government and a talented hardworking workforce that is highly proficient in English, the Philippines has never been in such excellent position to offer boundless opportunities for Korean investments,” the President said.

“Indeed, the Philippines is now open for business, and I’m encouraging each and everyone of you to be part of it. The growing number of Korean businesses in the Philippines that are thriving and showing strength in agriculture and fishery, in renewable energy, in shipbuilding, in tourism, medium and small enterprises, garments and textiles and PPP projects should easily clear any doubt or apprehension looming above anybody’s head,” he added. (PCOO)

Aquino, President Lee affirm commitment to enhance bilateral relations

President Benigno S. Aquino III and the visiting South Korean President Lee Myung Bak on Monday affirmed commitment to take the longstanding bilateral relations between their countries to even “greater heights” as the two leaders agreed to enhance cooperation on various fronts.

The two leaders were engaged in an expanded bilateral talk on Monday morning where they discussed broad ranging topics and had an in-depth exchange of views on how to enhance the Philippines-Republic of Korea bilateral relations.

President Aquino said he and President Lee noted the productive meetings they had at the sidelines of the recently concluded 6th East Asia Summit held in Bali, Indonesia where they both reaffirmed their commitment to enhance regional cooperation through the ASEAN framework.

While keeping each other posted on developments in the Korean peninsula and the West Philippine Sea, both leaders expressed interest on further enhancing defense cooperation in an effort to come up with peaceful solutions on the separate conflicts that their countries are currently involved in.

“On defense cooperation, I expressed to President Lee the interest of the Philippines to gain some specific defense articles such as military grade helicopters, boats, and aircrafts. This is in consonance with the upgrading and modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” President Aquino said in his statement.

For his part, President Lee said that “there were many issues that we talked about including maritime issues involving both of our countries and we agreed that we will continue to work together so that we can peacefully resolve this issue according to international rule, norms, and standards.”

President Lee thanked President Aquino for his steadfast support following the Chonan attack where one of their navy vessels sank and also the shelling of the Yongpyong Island by the North Koreans.

“The Filipino government has always been there by Koreans’ side providing instantaneous support and we showed our tremendous appreciation to His Excellency and the members of his government for their continuous support which is greatly appreciated by everyone in Korea,” the South Korean Leader said.

“We also agreed to continue our cooperation in order to peacefully resolve the North Korean nuclear issue thereby ushering in a genuine era of peace and stability to our region,” he added.

Both the Republic of Korea and the Philippines have enjoyed strong friendship and partnership since 1949—a year after the Korean War—where the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea played a vital role in helping the Koreans defend their freedom.

“Just a year after establishing diplomatic relationship, the young soldiers here from the Philippines came all the way to Korea to help us defend against communist aggression and help us defend our freedom and our democracy and for this we will always remain eternally grateful,” President Lee said. (PCOO)

Sunday, 20 November 2011

PIA News Dispatch - Sunday, November 20, 2011

President Obama commends Philippines' strides toward reform

United States President Barack Obama praised the Philippines for the extensive reforms that the current government has initiated, vowing to continuously support it in its endeavors, President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Saturday.

The President arrived Saturday night at Villamor Airbase in Pasay City after his successful attendance at the 19th Association of Southeast Nations (Asean) Summit in Bali, Indonesia this week.

“Nakausap rin natin ang ilang kaalyado, kabilang na si Pangulong Obama ng Amerika. Idiniin po niya ang mga naihayag na ni Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bago pa tayo tumungo sa Bali: mas malalim na ugnayan at suporta sa ating seguridad at mga programa upang iangat ang nakakarami mula sa kahirapan,” he said in his arrival statement.

“Nagpakita rin po si Pangulong Obama ng paghanga sa ating tuwid na landas, at sa patuloy nating agenda ng tapat at may-pananagutang pamamahala,” he added.

The President underscored the importance of effective and clean governance in defeating poverty in the country, one of his campaign pledges when he run as president last year.

“Tunay nga po: nasa tuwid na pamamahala ang ugat ng pagpuksa sa kahirapan. Nasa isip ko po iyan, saanmang lupalop ako mapadpad, kaya nga hindi po tayo nahuli sa pagtutok sa mga pangyayari sa Pilipinas kahit pa ba kaharap natin ang mga pinuno ng iba’t ibang bansa,” the President said.

The President and Obama had a bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the 19th Asean summit in Indonesia reinvigorating the long-standing relationship between the two countries.

“I just want to commend President Aquino for his leadership and his reform efforts. I think our relationship that is already very strong can only become stronger,” Obama told the President about the developments in the country.

Aside from strengthening their alliance, Obama and President Aquino discussed important matters such as maritime security and non-proliferation, among others.

Prior to the meeting between the two leaders in Indonesia, President Aquino met US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who arrived in Manila this week for the commemoration of the military alliance between the Philippines and the US.

At the same time, she signed a Partnership for Growth initiative aimed at boosting the country’s economy, create social stability as well as reform the judicial system. (PCOO)

ASIAN countries agree on creating regional rice reserve system, Aquino reports

Asian countries agreed on the creation of a regional rice pool that they can use in case of emergencies and severe rice price fluctuations in the global market, President Benigno S. Aquino III reported on Saturday.

The President, who arrived Saturday night at Villamor Airbase in Pasay City from his successful attendance at the 19th Association of South East Asian Nation Summit in Bali, Indonesia, said the creation of a rice reserve system in Asia is in response of the recent devastation by typhoons that resulted to massive flooding in Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines that severely affected rice production.

“Nariyan po ang mga kasunduan ukol sa agarang lingap para sa mga nasalanta ng sakuna,” the President said in his arrival speech. The president was referring to the agreements signed by the Asean member countries as well as their partners in the region.

“Nakikita po natin ang epekto ng bagyo sa Thailand at Cambodia ngayon, bagay na hindi rin bihira kung dumalaw sa atin. Dahil na rin po dito, napagkasunduan po ang isang sistema ng paluwagan sa bigas, na mapapakinabangan ng mga kasaping bansa, pati na rin po ng Tsina, Japan, at Korea, tuwing haharap sa hamon ng bagyong magpapababa ng ani,” he added.

The Chief Executive also mentioned the signing of the Bali Concord 3 by the Asean member countries explaining that it will pave the way for a clearer path that the regional block would take in the future that ensures political stability, better security, and stronger economic and socio-cultural cooperation among Asean members.

The Philippines also raised its advocacy for migrant workers’ rights, being one of the biggest exporter of human laborer in the region, the President said adding that the Philippines got overwhelming support from other members particularly Indonesia.

“Maganda rin po ang naging usapan ukol sa ugnayan at pagbubuklod ng mga ekonomiya sa Asean. Naniniwala po tayong magiging kalasag ang pagkakaisa laban sa mga problemang kinakaharap ng ibang mga rehiyon ng mundo sa ngayon,” he said.

The rice pool system is expected to boost efficiency, ensure timely delivery of the commodity, less market distortion and greater consistency with global trade rules.

Asian counties have proposed a reserve system that will address price fluctuations resulting from unusual market conditions, particularly during times of natural calamities like flooding or draught that result in an upsurge in rice prices.

Also, the reserve would be used as food aid during emergency situations and in the case of poverty alleviation projects needed by member countries.

Asean is composed of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines. (PCOO)

Aquino assures former President of due process

Noting that it is the right of every Filipino, President Benigno S. Aquino III assured the camp of his predecessor, former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of due process of law.

President Aquino made the assurance during his arrival speech at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City on Saturday night after attending the 19th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits in Bali, Indonesia.

“Nabalitaan na po ninyo siguro na nagsimula na ang prosesong dadaanan ni Ginang Arroyo upang harapin ang kaso ng pandaraya sa halalan, na nakasampa laban sa kanya. Magkakaroon po siya ng patas na pagkakataong ipagtanggol ang sarili sa korte, dahil karapatan ito ng bawat Pilipino,” he said.

“Iyan lang naman ang nararapat, ‘di po ba? Na ang prosesong dadaanan ng tindero o tsuper, ng guro o basurero, ng pulis o clerk mula sa pinakamataas hanggang sa pinakamababang hanay ay dapat pare-pareho, walang kinikilingan, at nakatuon lamang sa paghahanap ng katotohanan, at sa pananagot ng may kasalanan,” the President added.

On Friday, former President Arroyo was served an arrest warrant in her hospital room at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City, Manila, on charges of electoral fraud. Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 112 Judge Jesus Mupas ordered the arrest of Mrs. Arroyo for electoral sabotage in the 2007 polls.

“Bunga po ito ng mga repormang inilatag natin upang labanan ang korapsyon. Ang batayang prinsipyo sa likod ng mga repormang ito: dapat managot ang maysala, dahil kung hindi, para na rin nating iniwang bukas ang pinto para sa mga magnanais pang manlapastangan sa taumbayan,” President Aquino said.

The President also expressed elation over the fact that the Filipino people are behind him, particularly on the issue concerning the former President and now Rep. Arroyo.

“Uulitin ko lang po: umpisa pa lang ito ng proseso. At napakasarap nga pong malaman, kahit simula pa lamang, at kahit nasa labas ako ng bansa, nasa likod ko kayo, lalo na sa isyung ito. Alam ko pong hindi ako nag-iisa; habang iniisip ko ang inyong kapakanan, patuloy naman ang pagbibigay ninyo ng lakas sa akin,” the President said.

“Huwag po sana tayong matitinag sa ating mga paninindigan. Bagong bansa po ang sama-sama nating nililikha dito: isang bansa kung saan patas ang laban; isang bansa kung saan ang nagkasala, anumang estado sa buhay, ay napaparusahan; isang bansa kung saan naghahari ang katarungan. Iyan lamang ang karapat-dapat, at sa patuloy na suporta ninyo, iyan ang ating makakamtan,” he added. (PCOO)

Palace lauds performance of Filipino athletes in 2011 Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia

Malacanang on Sunday congratulated the Filipino athletes for their performance in the 2011 Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) held in Indonesia.

During an interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan, Presidential Deputy Spokesperson Abigail Valte lauded the Filipino athletes who represented the Philippines in the SEA Games for bringing pride and honor to the country.

“Congratulations doon po sa ating mga atleta na nanalo na po ng medalya sa SEA Games. Maraming salamat sa inyong pagsasakripisyo at sa inyong pagdadala na naman ng karangalan sa ating bayan,” Valte said.

The Philippines is currently in the 6th place of the 26th SEA Games competition in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia, with 24 gold, 42 silver and 60 bronze medals.

Valte said over Radyo ng Bayan that the government will look into ways of helping the Filipino athletes improve their performance.

“There’s always a way to improve. Siguro po tingnan natin kung ano aong puwedeng gawin para naman mai-akyat pa natin ang antas at maalagaan ang ating mga atleta,” the deputy spokesperson said.

Last week, Filipino boxing icon and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao defeated Juan Manuel Marquez and retained his WBO welterweight title.

Beauty Queen Gwendoline Ruais was named first runner-up in the 2011 Miss World pageant in London while Binibining Pilipinas-International Dianne Necio finished in the Top 15 of the Miss International contest in China early this month.

“Ang dami na po niyan in the past few weeks--from our beauty queens to our math students to our athletes,” Valte said. “Lingo-linggo ang paalala sa ordinaryong Pilipino that we really can make it on the global stage on any front if we put our minds to it.” (PCOO)