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)