Tuesday, 8 November 2011

PIA News Dispatch - Sunday, November 6, 2011

DSWD leads preparations for displayed residents return to Zamboanga Sibugay

The Department of Social Welfare and Development is leading preparations for residents and families displaced by military offensives to return to their homes in Zamboanga Sibugay, Malacañang said on Sunday.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the DSWD has been conducting various social programs to help residents get back into the groove of normal life after operations were conducted against rebels in their area recently.

“The DSWD is now beginning to make preparations for the return of the displaced families,” Valte said over government-run radio station dzRB.

She said that among the activities being conducted by the DSWD include counseling and stress debriefing sessions and providing livelihood assistance in the form of grants coming from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

She pointed out that DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman visited evacuation centers in Zamboanga Sibugay to oversee the preparations. (PCOO)

DBM releases P1.15 billion more for education

Malacañang on Sunday said that the Department of Budget of Management has released P1.15-billion to fund various projects of the Department of Education.

In an interview aired over government-run radio station dzRB, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the additional funding would be used to improve the delivery of basic education services to more Filipino students in order to meet the government’s goal to provide “Education for All.”

She added that this was also being done to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) on education set for 2015.

“Yung pondo pong ito ay gagamitin para sa mga training, scholarship and fellowship grants ng mga teache, capacity building for non-teaching personnel and for the national English proficiency program, as well as to cover the repair and rehabilitation of elementary and secondary school buildings in various locations,” Valte said.

Of the P1.15 billion, P500 million will cover the maintenance and other operating expenses, particularly in improving the learning outcomes determined in the annual Implementation plan of the schools; as well as to procure school supplies necessary in classroom teaching. This was released directly to DepEd's 16 regional units.

A total of P483.8 million was released to fund teachers' training, scholarship and fellowship grants, capacity building for non-teaching personnel, among other human resourced development activities. This release is charged from the P1.157-billion budget for Human Resources Training and Development.

Of the P483.8 million, P179 million will be used for the National English Proficiency Program. Also, P74.7 million has been released for the Madrasah Education Program of DepEd in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao.

Another P104 million was infused by the government to cover the repair and rehabilitation of elementary and secondary school buildings in various locations.

Lastly, P60 million was released to cover the acquisition of 52,630 armchairs and 1,169 teachers' tables and chair will be furnished 1,169 classrooms (725 for elementary and 444 for secondary) out of the 1,430 classrooms to be constructed from the current year's releases from the P1-billion DepEd School Building Program.

Of the P192-billion regular budget of DepEd for 2011, P171.2 billion have already been released by DBM to the agency as of September 30, 2011. (PCOO)

DILG creates inter-agency task force against 'kotong'

In line with President Benigno S. Aquino III’s directive “to coordinate with other agencies, and investigate as well as remove from the service, those found to be guilty of extortion activities,” the Department of Interior and Local Government has created an inter-agency task force that would go after scalawag policemen and other traffic law enforcers engaged in “kotong” or mulcting and extortion activities in the Metro Manila area.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte announced the creation of the Inter-Agency Anti-Kotong Task Force (IAA-TF) in a press briefing aired over state-owned radio station dzRB on Sunday.

She said that the creation of the IAA-TF was the government’s response to concerns raised by transport leaders in a meeting with the President earlier.

These concerns include the confusion in the issuance of traffic citation tickets by different agencies; maintenance of illegal terminals, proliferation of colorum public utility vehicles, extortion, collection of passing-thru fees and suspension of smoke-emission testing being implemented by LGUs.

The DILG is currently preparing a Memorandum of Agreement with concerned agencies like the Department of Transportation and Communications-Land Transportation Office, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the various local government units in the National Capital Region on the single-ticketing scheme and the campaign against “colorum” vehicles plying or operating in the National Capital Region.

The IAA-TF, aside from its strike force, will be composed of agents or representatives from the DILG, National Police Commission, Philippine National Police, DOTC-LTO, MMDA, Department of Justice and those from local traffic enforcers from various local government units in Metro Manila.

Under the anti-kotong hotline (0918-888-2749) scheme, the public will be asked to call or provide via text messaging their information that includes the date, time, place of occurrence, the modus operandi and the identity of the perpetrators.

All anti-kotong information/reports that would be fed or submitted to the hotline will be treated with utmost confidentiality to protect the source of the information.

Upon receipt of the information, a police officer-led IAA-TF team will be deployed to conduct discreet surveillance and investigations on their subjects, gather material and other documentary evidences against the perpetrators. (PCOO)

Malacanang welcomes Senator Santiago's 'Anti-Epal' measure

Malacañang on Sunday welcomed a measure introduced by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago that would prohibit public officials from grabbing credit over projects that were funded by taxpayers’ money that is now commonly referred to as “Anti-Epal Bill”.

In an interview over the state-run radio station dzRB Radio ng Bayan, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said Malacanang very much welcome such initiative from Senator Santiago since it follows President Benigno S. Aquino III’s policy against the common practice of most politicians.

“We welcome that initiative of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. If you remember, ang Pangulong Aquino po ay mayroong policy na ayaw niyang nilalagay ang kanyang photo sa mga proyekto ng gobyerno]," Valte said.

Valte stressed that President Aquino has always rejected the idea of having his name or photos printed on a billboard alongside a public-funded project unlike other politicians who even have their names plastered in local government-owned vehicles.

“The President was very clear [on] that early. Ang sabi niya, ayaw niya ang ganitong practice. So kung makikita n’yo po, wala tayong mga billboard na nakalagay ang mukha ng Pangulo at sinasabing ito ang proyekto… It’s a very welcome initiative from Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago,” she said.

Senator Santiago recently filed her “anti-epal” measure through Senate Bill no. 1967 formally titled as “An Act Prohibiting Public Officers from Claiming Credit through Signage Announcing a Public Works Project.”

The bill, which is currently in the committee deliberations phase at the Senate, only allow signs or billboards that bear the name, image or logo of the local or national government agency handling the project.

In the bill’s explanatory note, the senator noted that placing the names and photos of politicians and public officials in their projects has become “a prevalent practice” which is “unnecessary and highly unethical” for it “promotes a culture of political patronage and corruption.”

A public official whose name or photo is appended on any proposed or ongoing public works project and existing government projects that are undergoing maintenance or rehabilitation may serve a jail sentence of between six months to one year once the bill becomes a law. (PCOO)