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)