Tuesday, 31 January 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, January 31, 2012

‘Elevate public discourse, empower people’, Coloma tells communicators

Mass media practitioners have a major role in elevating public discourse as well as empowering the people towards national progress and reform, Presidential Communication Operations Office Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr. said before the graduating batch of journalism students of the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication in San Juan City on Monday.

“In the context of the present day Philippine realities what are your responsibilities as citizens and scholars? I want to suggest that to be truly relevant citizens-scholars must work purposively to become instruments for liberating our fellow Filipinos from the shackles of poverty and ignorance.

“Kalayaan po ang pinag-uusapan natin dito,” Coloma said in his commencement message.

To achieve this goal, Coloma cited three imperatives – that the graduates serve as channel for the propagation of communication for development or C4D, that they should work together to elevate the quality of public discourse, and that the students, being masters of their craft, serve as teachers, mentors and artists of encouragement.

Explaining the C4D as a dialogue or a social process, Coloma said this is where communities express their aspirations and concerns and community members participate in decisions that relate to their environment.

The role of media practitioners is to empower people in their communities to engage them in shaping their own destiny, Coloma said.

“Kailangan po nating bigyan ng pagkakataon ang ating mga mamamayan na isaad ang kanilang saloobin, iparating ang kanilang mga hinaing at bigyang-tinig at kahulugan ang kanilang mga pangarap. Iyan po ang layunin ng Philippine Development Plan ng administrasyon ni Pangulong Benigno S. Aquino III,” he said.

According to Coloma, President Aquino wants that even the poorest Filipino benefits from the inclusive growth achieved by the country through government economic endeavors.

The media has tremendous role in raising the awareness of the people on many issues, particularly climate change and disaster response, Coloma added.

To raise the quality of public discourse, Coloma suggested that media practitioners must also focus on developmental form of reportage instead of delving too much on politics and controversies.

In concluding his message, Coloma urged the graduates to take on their roles as masters and mentors with vigor and dedication.

“Sana po ay maglingkod at magsilbi tayong lahat bilang tagapaghatid ng bagong pag-asa at tagapagtaguyod ng makabuluhang pagbabago sa ating mahal na bansang Pilipinas,” Coloma said. (PCOO)

Aquino to lead Philippine Information Agency’s 25th Anniversary celebration Wednesday

President Benigno S. Aquino III will lead in a series of events on Wednesday in line with the 25th Anniversary celebration of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), the lead agency which serves as the direct link of communication between the government and the people as well as a dais where the citizens could express their opinions, views and beliefs to the highest official of the land.

Upon his arrival, the President will be received by Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio “Sonny” B. Coloma Jr. and PIA Director General Jose Fabia.

Topping President Aquino’s activities are the launching of the agency’s newest technological approach in efforts to better serve the Filipino people, the PIA’s New Website and SMS portal.

Following the launch, the Chief Executive will also witness the turn-over of the symbolic discs by Fabia to Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) Undersecretary Manolo Quezon III. The discs are PIA’s collection that will be handed to the Presidential Museum and Library under the PCDSPO.

Culminating the President’s attendance to the PIA event will be the viewing of the PIA Exhibit and Art Gallery.

The Philippine Information Agency was created by virtue of Executive Order No. 100 issued December 24, 1986 in accordance with revolutionary legislative powers of then President Corazon C. Aquino under the 1986 Freedom Constitution.

Upon its creation, the PIA was envisioned to provide a free flow of accurate, timely and relevant information that will assist the people in decision-making and identification of opportunities to improve quality of life. It also enables the citizenry to participate meaningfully in the democratic processes.

Its tasks include the establishment and maintenance of selected regional/provincial information centers on community needs for use in planning communications programs and provide basic information of government and on areas of particular interests to the community it serves.

The provision of technical assistance to other government agencies on the communication component of their programs; initiate the planning and implement the information programs of national scope; assessment of information needs of the people through opinion polls and surveys to be used to systematically obtain the public's needs and views on government programs and to plan information programs; lead in the conduct of research studies for policy formulation and the evaluation of information program effectiveness; and the upgrading of skills of government information officers, rural broadcasters, communicators, journalists and other communications personnel through training services and/or consultancy, among others. (PCOO)

Aquino government to exert extra effort to achieve 2012 economic growth target

Malacanang said the Aquino government will exert its best efforts to achieve five to six percent gross domestic product (GDP) this year based on the instruction of President Benigno S. Aquino III.

“We will certainly be exerting our best efforts to meet the target. And, as such, the President has already made several pronouncements on this and we will be following… the concerned agencies will be following suit,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said during a press briefing in Malacanang on Tuesday.

Valte was responding to reporters’ questions whether the government considers achieving the five to six percent GDP target an uphill fight for the Aquino administration.

Valte also defended the economic growth of the country during the initial years of the Aquino government saying that while figures are a bit lower compared to the previous administration, more Filipinos benefited from the achievements of the present government.

“Mas maganda naman yung inclusive growth. Katulad ng sinabi ng Pangulo, while you see numbers that is to the liking of some of our economists, mas maganda naman po na mas marami sa atin ang nakakaramdam of the growth that we have had now,” she said.

At the same time, Valte reiterated the government thrust of a more aggressive spending this year to boost the country’s economy particularly in infrastructure development and agriculture.

While there are some criticisms about the lackluster spending of the government that affected the country’s economic growth last year, the administration said external factors have contributed to slower economic growth.

Among these factors include the financial woes in Europe, the slowdown of the US economy, the disasters that hit Japan, and the political uncertainties in the Middle East.

The Philippines, being an exporter of semiconductors and electronic products as well as agricultural products and human services, was affected by the recent developments in the global economic environment. (PCOO)


Malacanang announces appointment of new government officials

Malacanang bared the newly-appointed officials of the government who will be part of the Aquino administration’s continuous initiatives in pushing for developmental programs through the straight and righteous path towards sustainable development and progress for the Filipino citizenry.

In a regular press briefing in Malacanang on Tuesday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte announced the newly-installed officials led by Cherrie B. Belmonte-Lim as Acting Director III, Department of National Defense.

A practicing lawyer since 1995, Belmonte-Lim has served as Officer-in-Charge, Director III under the Department of Health, Legislative Staff Officer VI in the Senate and Researcher/Writer in the Regional Trial Court Branch 36, among others.

Belmonte-Lim obtained her law degree from the University of the Philippines and earned her Masters Degree in National Security Administration from the National Defense College of the Philippines in the year 2000.

Also appointed were Eva P. Ponce De Leon as Regular Member of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) and Benjamin P. Reyes as Deputy Executive Director for Operations of the DDB.

Ponce De Leon who served as Chairperson of the Philippine National Red Cross has been active in social work including the programs on the prevention and treatment of drug abuse in the country.

Reyes for his part has also been equally involved in the drug abuse treatment and prevention programs of the government. He graduated Doctor of Dental Medicine from the University of the Philippines in 1994.

Valte also announced the appointment of Jesus Leocario Barrera as member, Representing the Sugar Millers, Sugar Regulatory Administration under the Department of Agriculture. (PCOO)

Monday, 30 January 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, January 30, 2012

Aquino swears in Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry officers

President Benigno S. Aquino III administered the oaths of office of the newly elected Board of Directors and Officers of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry in ceremonies held in Malacañang on Monday.

Of the 44 new officers, only 30 were able to attend the swearing in by the President, who was joined by Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo.

These were: Miguel Varela, president; Jose Pardo, chairman Council of Advisers; Alfredo Yao, chairman; Francis Chua, chairman Emeritus; Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr., honorary chairman; Edgardo Lacson, honorary chairman; Donald Dee, vice chairman;

Jose Alejandro, George Barcelon, William Co, Eric Cruz, Menardo Jimenez, Sammie Lim, Antonio Lopa, and Benjamin Romualdez, Nora Lacuna, Victoria Gaetos, Eduardo Nicolas III, Ricardo Juliano as vice presidents;

Roberto Amores, chair for agriculture; Apolinar Aure, chair for mediation; Francis Ferrer, chair for ICT; Francisco Floro, chair for MSMEs; Henry Lim-Bonliong, chair for food-security; Tomasa Lipana, chair for taxation; Eduardo Ong, chair for formal education;

Renato Simbulan, chair for Philippine Chamber Development Institute; Alfonso Siy, chair for trade; Jesus Varela, chair for information and Public Relations; and Nelson Yuchongtian, Co-Chair for Trade.

The President wished the new officers good luck on their endeavors as he informed them of the strides the government is making to make the Philippines a more attractive investment venue.

He said the manufacturing sector is on an upswing and the government is working towards sustaining this outlook by implementing measures that will bring down electricity rates through the implementation of the open access electricity market that allows large electricity users in Luzon and Visayas to choose their own power suppliers.

For his part, PCCI president Miguel Varela assured the President of the group’s continued support.

“The PCCI will continue to work in partnership with government. We will put in the necessary inputs to make that work and that’s what we are doing right now,” Varela said. (PCOO)

Palace says PHL remains committed towards peaceful Asia-Pacific region

The Philippines remains committed in ensuring peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region in the midst of a stronger military cooperation with the United States.

“From our point of view we continue to be committed to ensuring peace and stability in the region. And again in connection to whatever disputes that we may have our commitment remains firm that we will pursue every diplomatic channel, avenue and recourse that we may be able to solve it peacefully,” Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said during the press conference in Malacanang on Monday.

Valte made this statement in reaction to a question whether China has something to worry about with regards to the Philippines’s commitment towards peace and stability in the region.

Valte said the Philippines will not compromise the peace in the region even as the country forges bilateral relations with other countries.

On Sunday, China’s state media said the Chinese government should impose “sanctions” against the Philippines after the latter offered to allow more US troops on its soil. The statement came in the midst of growing tensions over the disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

But Valte reiterated that dispute on the West Philippine Sea is a small facet of the good relationship between China and the Philippines. She said the Philippines has been pursuing several other relationships with China such as tourism and trade which was bolstered by President Aquino’s visit there last year.

The President’s spokesperson also reiterated that the discussion on the expanded presence of the US in the region is something that is still in the early stages of talks.

“Nothing is final yet. We have expressed several initiatives mainly on how to assist us to boost our defense capabilities. Again, as we stated earlier, we really do need to catch up with our neighbors when it comes to our defense capabilities,” she said.

China, Philippines, and Vietnam, have rival claims to parts of the West Philippine Sea, an area located in the world’s most important shipping lanes and believed to hold vast deposits of fossil fuel. Other claimants to the disputed Spratly Islands include Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia.

Last year, the Philippines and Vietnam complained on what they said were increasingly aggressive acts by China in the decades-long rift. (PCOO)

Aquino declares Feb. 4 as special non-working holiday in Zambales for the holding of special elections in Second District

President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared February 4, which falls on Saturday as a special non-working holiday in the province of Zambales in connection with the holding of the special elections for the 2nd District of Zambales following the death of 2nd District Representative Antonio Magsaysay Diaz last year.

In Proclamation No. 324 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on January 25, 2012, the President underscored the need to issue the declaration to afford the registered voters of the Second Legislative District the opportunity to participate fully in the special elections.

The President noted that "there may also be registered voters in the Second Legislative District who are working in the neighboring First Legislative District of the Province of Zambales."

On November 29, 2011, the Commission on Elections en banc promulgated Resolution No.11-1203, setting the second district congressional special elections on February 4, to fill up the vacant position left by Rep. Diaz.

The late congressman, who died on August 3, 2011, was a nephew of former President Ramon Magsaysay.

The election body announced the enforcement of a gun ban in Olongapo City and 13 other towns in Zambales for the start of the special elections in the second district of the province.

The COMELEC guidelines said any private individual, incumbent officials or political candidates are prohibited to carry firearms or hire armed personnel during the congressional election. The campaign period is ongoing until February 2. (PCOO)

Malacañang says Aquino government taking steps to lessen impact of continuing rise of crude oil in the world market

The Aquino government has started exerting all possible efforts to lessen the impact of the continuing rise of prices of crude oil in the world market on consumers and our economy, a Palace official said on Monday.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte issued the statement during the regular press briefing held in Malacanang on Monday, in response to news reports regarding the claims of Iran that oil prices could rise as high as $150 a barrel because of the European Union (EU) ban on imports of Iranian crude.

"I believe that is something that the Department of Energy (DOE) is already aware of and again, they have been taking steps to come up with measures if and when something like that happens," Valte said.

The DOE has stepped up its efforts to ensure that prices of petroleum products in the country remain fair and reasonable. The DOE also started implementing other measures to address the impact of the continuing rise of prices of crude oil.

News reports revealed that the European Union Foreign Ministers have agreed to ban oil imports from Iran starting July 1 as part of measures to ratchet up the pressure on the Persian Gulf nation’s nuclear program, the 27-nation bloc said in a statement issued last week.

The EU will freeze assets of the Iranian central bank in Europe as well as of eight other entities and ban the trade in gold, precious metals, diamonds and petrochemical products from Iran, the EU said.

Iran Deputy Oil Ministry Ahmad Qalebani said oil prices could rise as high as $150 a barrel in the future, according to news reports. (PCOO)

Aquino leads Galing Pook 2011 Awards in Malacañang

President Benigno S. Aquino III underscored the important role of local government units as partners of the Aquino administration in pushing for developmental projects focusing on poverty alleviation, education and health as part of his social contract with the Filipino people.

Speaking before fellow public servants, guests and the winners in the Galing Pook Awards 2011 at the Rizal Hall of the Malacanang Palace on Monday, the President said that through good governance as a result of constant cooperation from the national and local governments with the unwavering support from the people, the country will undoubtedly fulfill sustainable progress and development.

“Manalig lamang po tayo sa mga makabuluhang bunga ng mabuting pamamahala, sa pakikipagtulungan ng lokal at pambansang pamahalaan, at sa pakikibalikat ng bawat isa. Sama-sama po natin itong (progress) abutin sa tuwid na daan tungo sa isang mas matibay at mas masaganang kinabukasan,” the President said.

“Sadyang hindi matatawaran ang papel na ginagampanan ng ating Local Government Units sa ating krusada tungo sa kaunlaran. Kayo ang katuwang ng ating administrasyon sa pagpapatupad ng mga reporma sa lokal na antas; kayo ang nagsisilbing sangay ng pambansang pamahalaan sa pagsisiguro na tugma ang ating mga inisyatiba at proyekto, at direkta nitong naaapektuhan ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino sa positibong paraan,” he added.

Unity and cooperation, the President said, are essential tools in attaining the objectives in the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.

“Kung ang Millennium Development Goals ng United Nations ang ating magiging sukatan ng mga natatamasa nating kaunlaran — mula sa pagsugpo sa kahirapan at kagutuman, sa pagpapabuti ng sistemang pang-edukasyon, sa pagkakapantay-pantay sa lipunan, hanggang sa pangangalaga sa kalusugan at kapaligiran — talaga naman pong masasabi nating mas mabilis natin itong maaabot sa ating pagbabayanihan sa tuwid na daan,” the President said.

The Chief Executive also recognized the various projects of the local government units (LGUs) that have directly affected the lives of the Filipinos.

“Ang lahat po ng mga proyektong ito ay nagbunga mula sa masusing koordinasyon ng pambansa at lokal na pamahalaan, at ang masigasig na pakikiisa ng mamamayan. Sumasaludo po ako sa mga local chief executives na kasama natin ngayon. Hindi niyo lamang sinisiguro ang tagumpay ng bawat isinasagawa ninyong proyekto; binibigyang-lakas din ninyo ang mga mamamayan upang makilahok sa katuparan ng ating mga adhikain,” the President noted.

Initiated in October 21, 1993, the Galing Pook awards is a pioneering program that recognizes innovations and excellence in local governance.

The awardees are chosen from a national search of local governance programs, evaluated through a rigorous multilevel screening process based on positive results and impact, promotion of people’s participation and empowerment, innovation, transferability and sustainability, and efficiency of program service delivery.

Beyond the awards, winning programs become models of good governance promoted for adoption in other communities. They provide useful insights and strategies to find innovative solutions to common problems. More importantly, they affirm the community and the local government’s commitment to good governance.

Since its inception, at least 230 programs of 152 local governments were awarded the Galing Pook. These awardees become very important advocates in stimulating and inspiring other local governments to introduce innovative practices and provide a fertile environment for the replication of successful reforms.

A total of 137 entries were submitted this year, 55 from Luzon, 33 from Visayas and 49 from Mindanao.

The ten awardees for 2011 are Sarangani Province (Justice on Wheels), Misamis Oriental (Turning red to green), Upi Maguindanao (rural community e-Center), Zamboanga del Norte (empowering the Subanen people), Limasawa Southern Leyte (poor municipality can eliminate malnutrition), Alimodian Iloilo (bringing high schools closer to home), Bohol province (rabies prevention and elimination), Maribojoc Bohol (LGU-led cadastral survey), Albay province (health strategy for MDG attainment) and Real, Gen. Nakar, Infanta and Panukulan in Quezon Province (community-based mental health management). (PCOO)

Sunday, 29 January 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Sunday, January 29, 2012

Aquino to lead Galing Pook 2011 Award ceremonies in Malacanang Monday

President Benigno S. Aquino III will lead ceremonies for the 2011 Gawad Pook Awards that will be held in Malacañang on Monday, January 29, 2012.

He will be joined by Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, Galing Pook National Selection Committee chair Rafael Coscolluela, and Galing Pook Foundation chairperson Nieves Confesor.

The Galing Pook Awards, which began in 1993, is an annual search for the best governance programs across the nation.

A stringent screening and judging process looks at positive results and impact, people’s participation and empowerment, innovation, efficiency of program service delivery, and transferability and sustainability.

This year’s Galing Pook awardees were chosen for providing innovative solutions to disaster response, community-based funeral services, increasing public participation in governance, creating model communities, boosting an agricultural economy, environmental management, and improving health services.

At least 150 local government units (LGUs) have been awarded, involving more than 240 programs covering health care, peacekeeping, livelihood, housing and a variety of issues. (PCOO)

Malacanang thanks U.N. representative for positive feedback on government efforts to address flood victims in Northern Mindanao

Malacañang on Sunday thanked the special representative for disaster risk reduction sent by the United Nations for her positive feedback on the services rendered by the government to address the plight of the flood victims in Northern Mindanao.

Margareta Wahlstrom, head of the Geneva-based UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, was quoted in a newspaper report commending the Philippine government as well as non-government organizations, church and civil society groups on what she described as “very good and prompt response” in the aftermath of tropical storm Sendong.

Wahlstrom visited Cagayan de Oro and Iligan—the two cities that suffered the most damages and casualties—last January 24 to 27 at about the same time President Benigno S. Aquino III spearheaded the shelter-building communities there.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte welcomed Wahlstrom’s positive remarks, saying that this shows us the value of cooperation not only between the local and national governments but the private sectors as well.

Wahlstrom specifically cited the NGO’s plan of actions for the survivors of the flashfloods, calling it an “impressive work”.

“Ito lang po ‘yung isang example na…kapag lahat po tayo nagko-cooperate sa isa’t isa—nandiyan ang private sector, nandyan po ang national at local government. Kaya nagpapasalamat naman po tayo na nagkakaroon naman ng magandang feedback—hindi lang sa response ng pamahalaan kundi sa response po nating lahat,” Valte said.

In his visit to Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities last Wednesday, President Aquino assured those who survived the onslaught of typhoon Sendong that the government will not stop until their lives are back to normal again.

“Hindi po tayo makakapayag na laging nasa bingit ng alanganin at naglalaro sa dehado ang kaligtasan ni Juan dela Cruz. Sa tulong ng mga katuwang na ahensiya, tinitiyak natin na ang bawat inisyatibang ating ipinapatupad ay hindi lamang panandaliang tugon, hindi lamang paunang-lunas na bukas-makalawa ay isa nang problema; bagkus mga pangmatagalang solusyon,” the President said in a speech at Barangay Sta. Elena in Iligan City.

The government has allocated over P300-million courtesy of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Quick Response Fund and the National Housing Authority to subsidize over 5,000 housing units for the benefit of the flood victims. (PCOO)

Saturday, 28 January 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Saturday, January 28, 2012

Government now working to prevent marine pollution

The Aquino government has started implementing measures to address the problem of pollution threatening the country’s fish supplies, a Palace official said on Saturday.

During an interview aired over government-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) are now working actively to prevent and eliminate marine pollution.

"Nakikipag-coordinate po ‘ang Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resource sa ilalim ni Attorney Asis Perez para ma-dismantle ng mga local government units ang mga illegal pens," Valte said.

In coordination with other concerned government agencies, the BFAR continues to intensify its efforts towards the complete elimination of the practice of dumping of pollutants that endanger the marine environment.

Valte assured the public that the Aquino government remains steadfast in its drive to prevent air, land and water pollution.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje vowed to further enhance the country’s air quality management program in the wake of a report that air pollution remains one of the three major health issues confronting the nation, according to Valte.

"Pangalawa, conscious po ang DENR diyan. Kung naaalala niyo po ito ‘yung crackdown natin doon sa mga smoke emission testing centers na either walang lisensya or masyadong maraming certification na nilalabas na obvious namang hindi nila tine-test," Valte said.

"Dahil dito, bumaba naman ang pollution index natin. It is an issue that the DENR is very aware of," she said.

News reports said the UN marine experts claimed that fish habitat is being destroyed by pollution and climate change. It is also urging all governments and business establishments to do something to prevent pollution.

Vincent Sweeney, United Nations Environment Programme’s coordinator for the Global Program of Action to prevent marine environment degradation from land-based pollutants, said up to 90 percent of sewage in developing countries is discharged untreated into rivers, lakes and oceans, posing one of the most serious threats to water resources. (PCOO)

Puerto Princesa Underground River makes it to final list of New Seven Wonders of Nature

Malacanang expressed elation over reports that the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) was declared as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, a Palace official said on Saturday.

"Confirmation that the Puerto Princesa Underground River is one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature is welcome news indeed. Throughout the competition, Filipinos from all walks of life have given time, energy, and resources to this campaign," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a statement issued on Saturday.

Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) is now confirmed as one of the New7Wonders of Nature. It is reputed to be the longest navigable underground river in the World.

"This effort has raised awareness not only overseas, but nationally as well: visits to the PPUR have increased tremendously. This is proof positive of how effective a national effort of this sort can be --- to build awareness, express pride, and achieve results," Lacierda said.

In 2011, President Benigno S. Aquino III urged all Filipinos here and abroad to vote and support the country’s pride, the Puerto Princesa Underground River, as one of the finalists in the global search for the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

For his part, Bernard Weber, Founder-President of New7Wonders, congratulated the people of the Philippines for supporting their national finalist in the global campaign.

“When your very own President Aquino came out in support of the PPUR campaign, I knew that this country was taking the New7Wonders of Nature seriously,” Weber said.

“Fans of PPUR all over the world responded to his call for action by voting in record numbers and today’s confirmation is the well-earned reward for this extraordinary display of enthusiasm,” he added.

Puerto Princesa Underground River is located some 50km north of the city of Puerto Princesa, on Palawan Island in the Philippines.

It consists of a limestone karst mountain landscape, several large chambers containing significant formations of stalactites and stalagmites, and an 8.2 km. navigable underground river that winds through a cave before flowing directly into the West Philippine Sea. At the exit, a flawless lagoon is framed by ancient trees growing right to the water’s edge.

The provisional New7Wonders of Nature are, in alphabetical order: Amazon, Halong Bay, Iguazu Falls, Jeju Island, Komodo, Puerto Princesa Underground River, and Table Mountain.

Following Jeju Island, Puerto Princesa Underground River is the second to be confirmed on a preliminary basis, as New7Wonders has now completed the telephone voting validation in the Philippines.

The remaining five provisional New7Wonders of Nature are currently undergoing the three steps of the verification process, namely the national voting validation, the global voting calculation confirmation by an independent audit firm, and the preparation and implementation of the Official Inauguration ceremonies. (PCOO)

Friday, 27 January 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Friday, January 27, 2012

Aquino leads launching of Philippines Business Registry System

President Benigno S. Aquino III led the launching Friday of the Philippines Business Registry System (PBRS) in Makati City which is aimed at streamlining business registrations in the country and eliminating red tape.

The PBRS is a web-based system that will serve as a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs who want to transact or register their businesses. The computerized registration systems will link several agencies so that applicants can register businesses even without their presence.

Interlinked government agencies under the PBR system include the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG), Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth), Social Security System (SSS) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Through the PBRS, sole proprietors can now register their business names, generate or validate their tax identification number (TIN) and get employer registration numbers from the SSS, Philhealth and Pag-IBIG Fund.

One of the local government units (LGU) connected with the system is Quezon City. Caloocan and Mandaluyong are expected to connect to the system in the coming months.

The launching ceremony is the first phase of the PBR program. This year, more LGUs and other regulatory offices will connect to the system.

The PBR is one of the government’s priority projects to streamline business registration process and eliminate red tape. Through the PBRS, the Aquino administration hopes that the country will be more attractive to investors and will improve its ranking in the global business competitiveness.

During the launching rites, the President had a briefing on the actual client applications. He also witnessed the awarding of citation certificates to the five heads participating agencies that include SEC chairperson Teresita Herbosa, Pag-IBIG Fund Chief Executive Officer Darlene Berberabe, BIR Deputy Commissioner Lilia Guillermo, SSS president and Chief Executive Officer Emilio de Quiros Jr.

Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo and Trade Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya also joined the President during the event. (PCOO)

Malacanang maintains there are no plans for American military bases in the country

The Philippines and the United States will hold joint military drills to improve the defense capabilities of the two countries, but there are no plans to re-establish vast American military bases in the country, a Palace official said on Friday.

During the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Friday, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) Secretary Ramon Carandang said there are no discussions on bringing back permanent U.S. military bases in the country.

"None of these initiatives involve any kind of basing arrangements similar to what we had prior to 1991. Hindi po tayo nag-iisip na magbalik ng US bases similar to Subic and Clark prior to 1991. What we’re really looking at is to enhance our defense cooperation," Carandang said.

The exercises aim to improve RP-US combined planning, combat readiness, and interoperability and enhance security relations to respond to threats that include terrorists, pirates and smugglers, or dealing with natural disasters.

He averred that they are still in the process of detailed planning to ensure the success of the scheduled military exercises called the 2012 Balikatan.

"The Aquino administration, since it came into office, has been working very hard to enhance our defense capabilities, particularly our maritime capabilities. We’re doing this in cooperation not just with the United States, but also with Australia and other Asian neighbors. So that’s part and parcel of our efforts to enhance our defense capabilities," he said.

The Balikatan or "shoulder-to-shoulder" exercises have mostly been done around northern Luzon in the past years. For this year, the Philippines and the US are planning to hold the joint military exercises in Palawan.

The Balikatan is an annual RP-US bilateral military humanitarian assistance and training exercise under the auspices of the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement.

Carandang assured that the exercises will be held within the undisputed Philippine territory.

The Philippine Senate voted in 1991 to close major U.S. military bases in the country. (PCOO)

Aquino leads launching of Bureau of Corrections ten-year Roadmap at New Bilibid Prison

President Benigno S. Aquino III bared the various continuing efforts of the government to implement essential reforms in the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to provide a sense of hope to those undergoing rehabilitation.

In his speech during the launching of the BuCor 2022 Road Map and Stakeholders Fellowship at the New Bilibid Prison Reservation in Muntinlupa City, Friday, President Aquino said that the bureau should be identified as a source of “Hope” by the inmates as they prepare to face the challenges outside the penitentiary.

“Ito na nga po ang magiging bagong mukha ng bilibid: pag-asa… na pagkatapos nilang pagbayaran ang mga maling nagawa nila sa nakaraan, may pagkakataon silang magkaroon ng maayos na trabaho at disenteng pagkakakitaan dahil handa na silang humakbang tungo sa bagong buhay at kinabukasan,” the President said.

“Ito ang pag-asang hatid ng ating sistemang koreksyonal … ito ang pagbabago na ipinangako natin noon na tinutupad natin ngayon bilang isang makatarungan, maunlad at makataong bansa sa tuwid na daan… Sa paglulunsad natin ng Bureau of Corrections roadmap itutulak natin ang ating sistemang koreksyonal tungo sa tuwid na daan kung saan ang tanging layunin ng bilibid at ng bilangguan sa Pilipinas ay ang tiyakin ang makabuluhang rehabilitasyon at pagbabagong buhay ng mga bilanggo upang sila ay maging handa sa kanilang pagbabalik bilang bahagi ng kalakhang lipunan,” he added.

The President said that the reforms initiated in the BuCor include the construction of new buildings in various detention facilities in the country to help in decongesting the penitentiary and the continuous launching of livelihood programs that could help the inmates not only in supporting their families financially but also in their skills development.

“Layon nating tapusin na ang mga araw ng mga seldang maihahambing sa lata ng sardinas, hangad nating wakasan na ang pagbabalewala sa kalusugan at karapatan ng mga nakabilanggo… nais nating putulin na ang talamak na kuntyabahan at palakasan ng may mga impluwensyang tao.”

At present, the Chief Executive said, around 20 thousand were detained in the New Bilibid Prison which only has a capacity to confine nine thousand people.

“Siyam na libo lang po dapat ang kapasidad ng New Bilibid Prison subalit sa kasalukuyan humigit kumulang dalawampung libong katao po ang nakakulong dito,” the President said.

He added that the government is considering the transfer of the facilities in a much better location.

“Kaya naman kasalukuyan nang inaayos ang planong paglilipat ng New Bilibid Prison sa mas angkop na lokasyon upang ito ay maging isang mas malawak at mas epektibong koreksyonal na pasilidad,” President Aquino added.

“Patuloy tayong naglulunsad ng iba’t-ibang programang pangkabuhayan sa mga kulungan na maaari nilang (inmates) kapulutan ng bagong mga abilidad at karunungan,” he said.

President Aquino also said that he has already directed the Department of Justice to expedite the processing of data that will be included in the National Justice Information System that serves as data base of records from various agencies of the government.

Also, the government is pushing for the BuCor modernization bill which aims to further train and enhance the capabilities of the BuCor personnel.

Also present during the event were Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Bureau of Corrections Director Gaudencio Pangilinan, Muntinlupa City Mayor Aldrin San Pedro and Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr., among others.

The Bureau of Corrections Strategic Plan: “BuCor 2022” aims to improve public safety; provide humane, decent and secured inmate environment; provide an expanded inmate post-release opportunities; professional and accountable corrections administration and an improved resource management system. (PCOO)

Thursday, 26 January 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, January 26, 2012

Malacanang remains committed to curb piracy

Malacanang vowed to curb the proliferation of intellectual piracy in the country saying that there will be no “sacred cows” among the officials of the Aquino government following the involvement of one of its cabinet members in the purchase of “pirated” digital video discs (DVDs), recently.

In a regular press briefing in Malacanang, Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda stressed that the Aquino government remains committed to efforts undertaken by the various concerned agencies that include the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Optical Media Board, among others, in addressing the problem of “piracy.”

“Our commitment, not only with respect to OMB but also with respect to DTI and the other agencies which are in the fore front of the fight against intellectual piracy… we remain firm in our fight against intellectual piracy in all its forms,” Lacierda said.

“I think it is important, incumbent on us public officials to behave in accordance with law…to behave in support of our drive in whatever drive the government has launched and one of them is the drive against intellectual piracy,” he added.

When asked if Presidential Political Adviser Secretary Ronald Llamas is indispensable, Lacierda made it clear that nobody is being given special treatment among the Aquino Cabinet officials.

“No one is indispensable… I can tell you that, if you’re going to ask me for calls for resignation, that is a personal decision on the part of Secretary Llamas to do so,” Lacierda said.

He added that the President has yet to discuss with Llamas what really transpired in the pirated DVD purchase issue.

“I think gustong marinig ni Pangulong Aquino kung ano talaga ang nangyari doon… ang sinabi ni Pangulong Aquino hindi pa klaro so, siguro magandang ipaliwanag ni Secretary Llamas kay Pangulong Aquino,” Lacierda said.

“None of us are untouchable… I just want to clarify,” Lacierda stressed.

Reports revealed that Secretary Llamas was spotted allegedly buying pirated DVDs in a mall in Quezon City raising queries on such actions of conflict with the government’s drive against the purchase of the illegal merchandise. (PCOO)

Ochoa enjoins public servants to support 'Bayanihan ng Bayan'

Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. encouraged on Thursday government officials and employees to promote and participate in the "Bayanihan ng Bayan" project of the administration to help rebuild lives of typhoon victims in Mindanao.

Ochoa issued Memorandum Circular No. 26 enjoining all public servants to support the Bayanihan ng Bayan from January 25 to 28 in Iligan City after Tropical Storm "Sendong" ravaged the area and Cagayan De Oro City over a month ago.

"The event aims to illustrate the collective response and various ways the Filipinos can help victims of the typhoon," Ochoa stated in the memorandum. "It also intends to gather commitments from all over the country to rebuild devastated areas in Northern Mindanao."

On Wednesday, President Benigno S. Aquino III visited the relocation sites in Iligan City and Cagayan De Oro City, and launched the shelter program for typhoon victims. The President also assured local government units of the national government's support as they rehabilitate areas affected by Sendong.

Memorandum Circular No. 26, signed on January 25, specifically orders officials and employees of all departments, bureaus and agencies of the national government, as well as government-owned and -controlled corporations to support and take part in the Bayanihan ng Bayan. (PCOO)

Aquino to attend Business Registry System launching

President Benigno S. Aquino III will lead on Friday the launching of the Philippines Business Registry System (PBRS) in Makati City which is aimed at speeding up business registrations in the country.

The PBRS is a web-based system that will serve as a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs who want to transact or register their businesses, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) documents as well as Home development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG), Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) and Social Security System (SSS). Those documents are prerequisite in opening up a business.

The computerized registration systems will link those agencies so that applicants can register businesses even without their presence.

Through the PBRS, sole proprietors can now register their business names, generate or validate their tax identification number (TIN) and get employer registration numbers from the SSS, Philhealth and Pag-IBIG Fund.

During the launching rites, the President will be briefed on the actual client applications. He is also expected to witness the awarding of citation certificates to the five participating agencies.

The President will be joined by Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Trade Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya and Provincial Director Arnaldo del Rosario of the Department of Trade and Industry-National Capital Region. (PCOO)

Aquino declares Feb. 3 as special non-working day in commemoration of birth anniversary of Blas Ople

President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared February 3 which falls on a Friday as a special non-working day in the province of Bulacan in connection with the 85th birth anniversary of Blas F. Ople.

In Proclamation No. 323 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on January 25, 2012, the President issued the declaration to give the people of Bulacan the opportunity to commemorate the birth anniversary of Ople.

"Ople, who served as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Senate President and Secretary of Labor, had devoted decades of his life to selfless dedicated and sincere service to our country and our people," the President said.

Ople was born in Hagonoy, Bulacan on February 3, 1927 to Felix Antonio Ople, a craftsman who repaired boats, and his wife Segundina Fajardo.

He graduated valedictorian of his grade school class at the Hagonoy Elementary School in 1941. Upon the invasion of the Philippines by Japan during World War II, the teenage Ople joined the guerilla movement and fought under the Del Pilar Regiment and the Buenavista Regiment of the Bulacan Military Area founded by Alejo Santos.

In 1948, he finished his high school studies at the Far Eastern University. He worked towards a degree in liberal arts at the Educational Center of Asia (formerly Quezon College) in Manila. Ople pursued a career in journalism.

Ople held several high-ranking positions in the executive and legislative branches of the Philippine government, including as Senate President from 1999 to 2000, and as Secretary of Foreign Affairs from 2002 until his death. He died on December 14, 2003. (PCOO)

Stronger democracy improves country’s Press Freedom ranking, says Palace

The Philippines has improved in the 2011 Press Freedom Index by the Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) or Reporters without Borders because of better democratic space in the country, a Palace official said on Thursday.

RSF, a Brussels-based organization, said the Philippines has improved slightly in its 2011 Press Freedom Index although it still reels from the stigma of the November 2009 Maguindanao massacre where at least 57 were killed including 32 media people.

The Philippines ranked 140th in the 2011 Press Freedom Index, an annual rating index published by RSF that covers 178 countries worldwide.

“I think the press is not subjected to the kind of intimidation that they were in the previous administration. I think the people see that the violence being committed on media people is being addressed,” Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) Secretary Ramon Carandang said in an interview.

“And look at the kind of debate that goes on in media, it’s very free. And if we have complaints from time to time you can see everybody is free to ask what they want. There is room for discourse,” he added.

Asked if he believes the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill will improve the country’s ranking, Carandang said, he doesn’t know the impact of the bill on the press. But he added that even without the FOI bill reporters can still get the information they need through their ingenuity.

He believes, however, that the FOI bill will definitely improve the democratic space in the country.

The Philippines dropped to 156th place a year after the Maguindanao massacre, slipping from its former ranking at 122nd.

Although there is improvement, the RSF still included the Philippines in its 2011 Press Freedom Index, together with Pakistan and Afghanistan “where violence and impunity persist.”

The RSF said paramilitary groups and private militias continued to attack media workers in the Philippines. (PCOO)

Malacanang says decision of DOJ to file criminal charges against Pichay and Landingin represents milestone in Aquino government’s quest to fight corruption

The decision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to file criminal charges against former Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) Board Chairman Prospero Pichay Jr. and acting LWUA Administrator Daniel Landingin in connection with the anomalous purchase of the troubled Express Savings Bank Inc. (EXSBI) represents yet another milestone in the Aquino government's quest to fight corruption, a Palace official said on Thursday.

"We welcome the decision of the DOJ panel of prosecutors to file charges of corruption, malversation, and violation of the banking law, against Pichay and Landingin. These recent developments represent yet another milestone in our quest to promote a culture of good governance in this country, where the fight against corruption and the fight against poverty are equally important in achieving our vision of a progressive and prosperous Philippines," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a statement issued on Thursday.

In 2009, the LWUA, under the leadership of Pichay and Landingin, entered into allegedly anomalous transactions with Express Savings Bank, Inc. (ESBI), then on the verge of bankruptcy.

Eighty million pesos was used to acquire 60 percent of the outstanding capital stock of ESBI, while another 400 million pesos taken from the LWUA funds was deposited into the ESBI.

The resolution of the DOJ panel, along with all records of the case, has been transmitted to the Office of the Ombudsman for appropriate action.

"Our resolve to weed out corruption in government and hold guilty officials accountable has not lessened; but rest assured that we will likewise be vigilant in affording the respondents the rights due to them under the Constitution," Lacierda said. (PCOO)

Aquino keynotes Arangkada Philippines Forum

President Benigno S. Aquino III keynoted the Arangkada (accelerate) Philippines Forum held at the Grand Ballroom of the Mariott Hotel in Pasay City on Thursday.

Arangkada Philippines is a comprhensive advocacy paper that share recommendations leading to the creation of US$75 billion in new foreign investment, 10 million jobs and over P1-trillion in revenue for the Philippine economy within this decade.

Conducted by the Joint Foreign Chambers, Arangkada Philippines estimates that, to achieve these results, the country must focus on more rapid development of the Seven Big Winner Sectors namely: agribusiness, business process outsourcing, creative industries, infrastructure, manufacturing and logistics, mining and tourism.

In his speech, the President said that although these seven sectors were part of his platform in the 2010 Presidential campaign, his government would focus on three – agribusiness, infrastructure and tourism – whose benefits would redound to the Filipino people.

“The Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines (JFCP), acting in solidarity with our agenda of national transformation, has graciously conducted a study on how to accelerate investments and economic growth, and create jobs in the country,” the President said.

“The Arangkada study mentioned seven promising sectors. Some in the audience may recall that these same seven sectors were part of my platform during the 2010 election campaign. They represent the global competitive advantage of the Philippines. They are primary areas of growth that can create millions of jobs for our economy and potentially change the tragic paradigm of poverty afflicting too many of our citizens,” he stressed.

The President pointed out that focusing on the development of the aforementioned three sectors was in line with his administration’s advocacy of “equitable progress and inclusive growth.”

“The driving principle behind my government has always been equitable progress and inclusive growth, and we believe that the success of these three sectors-- tourism, infrastructure, and agriculture-- redound to the benefit of the common Filipino,” the President said.

“They offer immediate opportunities to those in the margins: those who live in poverty; who are in the rural areas; who, by a systemic neglect of their dignity, have been disallowed more active participation in the national economy. These are the same people who are being targeted by our investments in social services such as education, health, and community development,” he added.

The Chief Executive expressed optimism that through this development framework, the Filipinos would “reap the profits of our efforts and become skilled, healthy, empowered individuals.”

“They will be the ones to spur the entire economy forward-- consumers who will allow businesses to thrive; experts who will fuel the growth of BPO companies; award-winners in our creative industries; not only production-line workers, but also engineers and managers,” the President concluded. (PCOO)

Aquino to focus on three sectors of Arangkada Philippine

President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Thursday that his administraton would prioritize the development of three of the seven sectors outlined in a study conducted by the Joint Foreign Chambers entitled, Arangkada Philippines, for it’s ability to promote inclusive growth or an equitable allocation of resources with benefits accruing to every section of society.

These sectors, the President said, are in, tourism, infrastructure and agribusiness.
He pointed out that the government has taken several steps in ensuring that these three sectors are given the rightful attention it deserves.

To attract more tourists which, the President said, is pegged at 3.917 million or 11.2% higher than the 3.520 million posted in 2010, the government has begun liberalizing Philippine aviation and upgraded various airports, to allow more carriers into the country.

The President also announced that around two thirds of the country’s budget for infrastructure has been released and is ready to fund projects such as refurbishing of NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) Terminal 1 and the completion and full utilization of Terminal 3, upgrading and widening the Manila North Road, and extending the light rail transit 1’s south and east portions.

“Now that the necessary project integrity checks and systems are in place, I am happy to report that as of January 13 of this year, around two thirds of the 205.8 billion peso budget for the infrastructure program has been released. This means 137.4 billion pesos that will redound to employment for those who work in construction, increase mobility for goods and services across the nation, and more livelihood opportunities for those in our local communities,” the President said.

On agribusiness, the President said the country’s goal to be rice sufficient by 2013 and improve the wages of farmers was still plausible since the Department of Agriculture’s budget this year was increased by 51.3 percent, to P53.3 billion.

“The basic strategy is to sustain the increase in productivity and improve our competitiveness; to enhance economic incentives and enable mechanisms for our farmers; and to manage the demand and diversification of our staples,” the President said.

“Irrigation, community seed-banking, and the construction of farm-to-market roads are all part of the package. These will all allow us not only a stronger rice farming industry, but also an opportunity to tap into other growth possibilities such as coconut, poultry and livestock, fisheries, and bio-fuel,” he added.

The President said that the benefits of these three sectors would redound to the common Filipino who will “reap the profits of our efforts and become skilled, healthy, empowered individuals, they will be the ones to spur the entire economy forward.”

“The driving principle behind my government has always been equitable progress and inclusive growth, and we believe that the success of these three sectors-- tourism, infrastructure, and agriculture-- redound to the benefit of the common Filipino,” the President said.

“They offer immediate opportunities to those in the margins: those who live in poverty; who are in the rural areas; who, by a systemic neglect of their dignity, have been disallowed more active participation in the national economy. These are the same people who are being targeted by our investments in social services such as education, health, and community development,” he said.

Arangkada Philippines is a comprehensive advocacy paper that share recommendations leading to the creation of US$75 billion in new foreign investment, 10 million jobs and over P1-trillion in revenue for the Philippine economy within this decade.

Conducted by the Joint Foreign Chambers, Arangkada Philippines estimates that, to achieve these results, the country must focus on more rapid development of the Seven Big Winner Sectors namely: agribusiness, business process outsourcing, creative industries, infrastructure, manufacturing and logistics, mining and tourism. (PCOO)

Gov’t working to bring electricity rates down

In order to address the needs of the manufacturing industry, which the Philippines will see a resurgence of this year, President Benigno S. Aquino III said that the government is working on several measures to bring electricity rates down.

In a forum with participants to the Arangkada Philippines on Thursday at the Mariott Hotel in Pasay City, the President said that making electricity rates in the Philippines affordable will entice more investors to put up shop here.

“...as you know, manufacturing suffers in the fact that we have very high electricity rates. The electricity rates, we are working on bringing them down. First, by encouraging the setting up of the based-generating plants. But more importantly trying to hasten the open access for and to have the wholesale electricity spot market really fully functional,” the President said

An open access electricity market allows large electricity users in Luzon and Visayas to choose their own power suppliers. Eventually, households will have the capacity to choose as well. This set up is unlike the current system in which consumers are limited to the suppliers that have jurisdiction over their respective areas.

“Now, that is a necessary step for us to be able really encourage manufacturing concerns to come back here,” the President said. (PCOO)

Aquino to discuss liberalization of PHL healthcare institutions with Obama in US visit this year

President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Thursday that he will bring the concerns of the Philippine healthcare industry to the attention of US President Barack Obama when he visits the United States by the middle of this year.

Aging Filipino-Americans residing in the US mainland have not been able to retire in the Philippines as the healthcare industry, which include hospitals and retirement homes, here is not accredited by the US government.

President Aquino said he will discuss with Obama the possibility of extending extra “considerations” for Philippine facilities.

“I will be having a visit with President Obama sometime, towards the middle of the year. You can count on my…requesting him again for a consideration of accrediting more of our facilities,” the President said.

He said that discussions with US lawmakers in previous meetings touched on the subject adding that “there are invitations to talk with them again when we visit the America so I will be sure to request for that liberalizing of the facilities for the retirees.” (PCOO)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Aquino honors mother’s birth anniversary by joining Sendong victims in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan Cities

President Benigno S. Aquino III honored the 79th birth anniversary of his mother, former President Corazon C. Aquino, by joining the victims affected by Typhoon Sendong in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan Cities on Wednesday.

In a statement, the Office of Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that the President is in Mindanao today to ensure that the rehabilitation process for the victims is going on smoothly and on track in order for them to “get back on their feet at the soonest possible time.”

“Today, on the birth anniversary of the late President Corazon C. Aquino, the President paid tribute to the values espoused by his mother by traveling to Iligan and Cagayan de Oro to join shelter builds and conduct inspections in areas that were devastated by Typhoon Sendong,” the statement read.

“President Aquino is committed to a rehabilitation process that will help the victims get back on their feet at the soonest possible time, while also ensuring that the assistance provided to local government units will reach those who need it the most. He also believes that communities should be rebuilt in areas out of harm’s way,” it added.

“Through the joint initiatives of the DSWD, the local government units, the National Housing Authority, and volunteers from Habitat for Humanity and Gawad Kalinga, the Aquino administration is showing its commitment not just to restoring communities stricken by disaster, or to the people who lost their livelihoods, but also to the very principle that no one should be left behind,” the statement said.

The former President was born on January 25, 1933 in Tarlac. She served as the 11th president of the Philippines from 1986 to 1992 and has the distinction of being the first female president of the Philippines.

She succumbed to cancer on August 1, 2009. (PCOO)

Aquino says people power spirit very much alive in Iligan City rebuilding efforts

Visiting the permanent relocation site of the victims of Typhoon Sendong in Iligan City, President Benigno S. Aquino III likened the rebuilding of the city to the period where the country rose in the aftermath of the Marcos dictatorship.

The fight against the Marcos’s tyranny was spearheaded by the President’s mother, former president Cozaron C. Aquino who died in August 2009 after a fight with colon cancer. The country commemorates today the birthday of the former leader.

“Napapanahon din po siguro ang pagdiriwang natin ngayon sa paggunita sa kaarawan ng aking yumaong ina. Maaari po nating maihambing ang ginawang pagbangon ng mga Pilipino noong matapos ang diktadurya sa pagbangon natin ngayon pagkatapos ng trahedya,” the President said during his speech in Sta. Elena, Iligan City, where houses are being built for flood survivors.

“Bilang paggunita po sa iniwang biyaya sa atin ng aking yumaong ina, patuloy nawa nating ipamalas ang diwa ng People Power upang harapin ang iba’t ibang suliranin ng ating bansa at mapaunlad ang kabuhayan ng ating kapwa.”

With the ideals that former president Cory Aquino fought for the country, President Aquino said it inspired Filipinos to rise from the ruins of the Marcos dictatorship. And with the reforms being initiated by the present government, President Aquino said Filipinos are witnessing the transportation of the nation as a new society.

Filipinos responded to the call of former President Cory Aquino to restore democracy in the Philippines and the President said he’s calling on the Iligan City residents to live with that call of the icon of Philippine democracy.

“Tulad po ng ipinamalas natin sa araw na ito, muli’t muli po nating patunayan sa mundo ang bisa ng pagkakaisa at pagkakapwa-tao,” President Aquino said.

The President added that he’s proud of his Cabinet members who immediately acted to respond to the disaster particularly by assisting people in need during the December 16 flashfloods in Iligan and Cagayan de Oro City.

The building of new homes for the survivors of the Iligan City flashfloods won’t be possible without the dedication of all the government agencies as well as the local government unit that gave their all out efforts, the President said.

At the same time, the chief executive vowed to provide the additional money needed to complete the housing project in Sta. Elena in Iligan City, in addition to the fund already donated by private corporations.

The local government of Iligan City partnered with Gawad Kalinga to build the new community for the survivors of the flashfloods. Proponents intend to build 300 new homes in the 16-hectare area until February.

According to local officials, the location can accommodate up to 1,900 new homes for the survivors. They are also eyeing for another 15-hectare land in another site in the city to relocate other survivors.

Each house costs around P110,000, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). (PCOO)

Aquino orders security forces to guard urban centers from bomb attacks

--President Benigno S. Aquino III said he has instructed the police and the military to increase security measures in the country’s urban centers following the Makati bomb blast this week.

“Inutusan ko ‘yung ating security forces na dagdagan pa ‘yung tinatawag na hardening aspects sa atin pong mga urban—‘yung potential areas na tatargetin para mabawasan ‘yung pagkakataon ng mga masasamang loob na maghasik ng lagim o magkaroon ng pagkakataon na magdulot ng pinsala sa ating mga kababayan,” the President said during an interview in Iligan City on Wednesday.

The President was in the city to visit shelter building efforts by the government and the private sector for the survivors of the deadly December flashfloods.

The cooperation and vigilance of the public have helped the authorities to secure the urban centers in addition to more police visibility, according to the President.

Investigators haven’t identified person or groups behind the Makati blast, the President said noting that it’s hard to speculate. But he said he had a meeting with security officials to determine what group was behind the explosion.

At the same time, the Chief Executive defended the security situation in the Philippines, saying any country is vulnerable to attacks even those in Europe and America.

The President explained that countries like Norway and Japan, both industrialized nations and have very good security capabilities, weren’t able to stop madmen from being attacked.

It can be recalled that last year, a lone attacker bombed a populated area in Norway and opened fire in a resort killing scores of people. A few years ago, a gas attack was carried out in Japan that killed several people.

“I think we are not any worse off than a lot of other countries. In the news they talk of religious strife in Africa and the Middle East and they’re talking about also ‘yung regime changes in the Middle East. So are we any less safe?” the President asked.

The President was responding to a question whether it is still safe for the tourists to stay in Philippines following the Makati blast. The government has recently launched a tourism slogan aimed at increasing tourist arrivals. (PCOO)

ARMM can effectively fight illegal logging once regional body is complete, Aquino says

: President Benigno S. Aquino III said the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Mujiv Hataman could effectively respond to the illegal logging activities in the region once a regional assembly is organized.

The region has blamed Illegal logging activities for the deadly flashfloods that killed thousands of people in Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro city last December.

The President said he hasn’t lifted the state of national calamity he declared after the flashfloods enabling the government to respond more effectively to the disaster.

The President was in Iligan City on Wednesday to visit the shelter building activities in the city which will be the permanent relocation site for the survivors of the December flashfloods.

In a media interview in Iligan City on Wednesday, the Chief Executive also said he is awaiting the complete report on the disaster although he expects an initial briefing from Governor Hataman probably this week.

The President reiterated that one of his instructions to Governor Hataman is to stop illegal logging activities in ARMM to avoid similar disasters in the future.

“Isa sa mga unang iniatas natin kay Governor Hataman ay tugunan itong illegal logging na siyang dahilan kung bakit] nagkaroon ng pinsala dito, tukuyin yung may kasalanan at ihabla yung mga may kasalanan,” he said.

The government will make sure that illegal loggers do not get a market for their illegally produced products to completely halt logging activities in the ARMM, the President said.

The President also explained that the existing state of national calamity enables the government to do certain things more expeditiously particularly in finding long term solutions that reduce danger of disasters pose to vulnerable communities.

With regards to the ongoing housing project in Iligan City for the flood survivors, the President said housing agencies committed to finish the 1,700 housing units by June 2012.

“Ang punto nito, talagang sinisigurado natin na maisasaayos at the earliest possible time lahat ng mga kababayan natin, maibabalik sa normal ang kanilang pamumuhay at masiguro na yung dating risk na tinatamasa nila ay hindi na mangyari,” he said. (PCOO)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Aquino breaks ground for new aviation school

CLARK FREEPORT ZONE, Pampanga: President Benigno S. Aquino III led ground breaking ceremonies for the construction of a new aviation training center here on Tuesday.

The Philippine Academy for Aviation Training, Incorporated (PAAT) is a joint venture between Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) and Canadian Aviation Electronics (CAE).

Once completed by the third quarter of 2012, the $50-million PAAT will have the capability to train over 2,500 pilots annually as well as other aviation professionals for CEB and third-party airlines in the region.

In his speech, the President lauded the CAE and CEB joint venture saying the investment once again recognizes the talent, skill and hard work of Filipinos.

“It is always good to see the hard work and creativity of Filipinos being recognized by companies from in and out of the country; and today is further proof of the confidence companies like Cebu Pacific and CAE have in our people's talent and potential,” the President said.

“You are expressing your confidence not just in words, but in dollars and cents—to the tune of forty to fifty million dollars,” he added.

The President said that once the facility is completed, Filipinos will be given a chance to hone their flying skills and further be recognized as one of the world’s best pilots.

“Soon we will be able to train world-class pilots here; we will provide a whetstone that will hone yet another of our countrymen's many talents,” the President said.

“They will come here and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with students from all over the world—effectively cementing our position as a hub for aviation training in the Asia-Pacific region,” he added.

The President then went on to pitch for the new tourism campaign of the Philippines saying, “In the spirit of the campaign recently launched by our Department of Tourism—we will soon be able to say that even aviation training is more fun in the Philippines.” (PCOO)

Aquino says construction of new aviation training school timely as country ramps up aviation reforms

: President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Tuesday that the construction of the Philippine Academy for Aviation Training, Inc. (PAAT), a new aviation training center here, would help in the government’s quest to improve and reform the country’s aviation industry to be at par with world standards.

In his speech keynoting the ground breaking ceremony for PAAT, the President said the Philippine aviation reforms include regaining Category 1 status under the United States Federal Aviation Administration and liberalization of aviation rules in order to boost domestic and international air traffic and, in turn, the economy.

“Today’s groundbreaking comes at a time of transformation, as we ramp up our efforts to reform aviation in the country. Right now, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines is focused on regaining Category 1 status under the US Federal Aviation Administration. A positive outcome will result in the expansion of our airlines' capacities, which will redound to a healthier aviation industry, more mobility for our people, and ultimately, a more robust and equitably progressive economy,” the President said.

“We have also been working on liberalizing aviation here. In the last year we have seen our liberalization programs translate into very robust growth in both domestic and international air traffic. Likewise, the Department of Tourism has hit the ground running in the implementation of our Pocket Open Skies policy,” he added.

The President said that these positive results would directly benefit the tourism sector which, he said, “is one of the low-lying fruits of our economic agenda.”

“We are aware of how gifted our country is—from our natural wonders to the inherently welcoming attitude of our people. Make no mistake about it: we plan on capitalizing on these competitive advantages. Each new job in the tourism industry takes on a multiplier effect, empowering our citizens' financial capacity, allowing local businesses to thrive, and creating even more jobs for the rest of our countrymen,” the President said. (PCOO)

Aquino cites strides achieved in aviation history

: President Benigno S. Aquino III cited the giant strides achieved by the human race in perfecting its quest of piloting an aircraft, saying this determination is “enduring and undeniable proof that if we set our minds to it, and if we’re willing to work hard each and every day, then we can certainly achieve anything we set out to do.”

The President said that after only 75 years after the first Filipino pilots flew from Manila to Spain in 1936, we are now ready to train other Filipinos and peoples of the world to become pilots.

“It is exciting to envision how, in a few months, this facility will be completed—already teaching eager pilots how to properly operate aircrafts,” the President said in his speech at the ground breaking ceremonies for the Philippine Academy for Aviation Training, Inc. (PAAT) here.

“In three generations, we have gone from the pioneering flights of Filipino aviators, such as the first flight of Antonio Arnaiz and Juan Calvo from Manila to Spain in 1936—and the setting up of our first international air terminal in Nielson Field just one year later—to our now possessing the technology, the know-how, and the skills to train thousands of pilots, who will eventually be flying travelers across continents every single day,” he added.

“But seeing how much progress we have made in such a short time—from celebrating our first flight a little more than 75 years ago to where we find ourselves now—we see how far hard work and commitment can take us in fulfilling our shared dreams,” the President said.

The President pointed out that he wanted the progress achieved by the aviation industry to be reciprocated in our country.

“What we want to do can be stated simply: we want to change the way this country works; we want to improve the lives of our people; and we want to put an end to corruption, so that we could put an end to poverty,” the President said.

“We are aware that the path to fulfilling these goals will be difficult. I will need not just our effort, but the effort of each and every Filipino. And we must also aspire to soar. We must dare to dream that we have a winning team,” he added.

He stressed that this dream can be achieved as long as we focus and do more than what is asked of us.

“If we all focus, if we do the things we can and need to do, no matter how small; if we always strive for excellence, and if we do not lose sight of the dreams we share for this country, then surely, we can soar higher than we already have,” the President said. (PCOO)

Aquino confers Presidential Legion of Honor on Liwag

President Benigno S. Aquino III conferred the Presidential Legion of Honor (PLOH) with the Rank of Lakan on outgoing Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Commandant Admiral Ramon C. Liwag in ceremonies held at the PCG headquarters in Port Area, Manila on Tuesday.

The awarding ceremonies were held simultaneous with Liwag’s retirement and turnover of command of the PCG to his successor Rear Admiral Edmund Castor Tan.

In his speech keynoting the PCG Change of Command and Retirement rites for Admiral Ramon C. Liwag, the President paid tribute to outgoing PCG chief for his exemplary performance.

The President cited Liwag for enhancing maritime law enforcement and security and giving special focus on the agency's drive against terror threats, smuggling, illegal fishing, poaching, illegal drugs and trafficking of persons, illegal recruitment and protection of marine environment, transnational crimes among others.

"Sa loob ng siyam na buwan, pinatunayan mong ang pagkakaroon ng mataas na katungkulan sa anumang organisasyon o tanggapan ay hindi para sa mapang-abuso at makasarili; bagkus, isa itong responsibilidad na dapat lamang na iginugugol upang paglingkuran ang ating bandila at isulong ang kapakanan ng nakakarami," the President said.

The Chief Executive was joined by Transportation and Communications Secretary Mar Roxas when he presented the Presidential Legion of Honor to Liwag.

Roxas also presented the DOTC Plaque, Plaque of Honorable Service and Medal Frame to Liwag, the 23rd PCG commandant. A Certificate of Appreciation was presented to Maria Fe. G. Liwag, wife of the outgoing commandant.

In his speech, Liwag thanked the President for entrusting him the responsibility to lead the PCG in working with other agencies to carry out the goverment's security agenda.

"Mahal na Pangulo, dahil po sa iyong suporta, mataas po ang morale ng iyong tauhan sa PCG at ipinagmamalaki po naming mag-suot ng unipormeng tanda ng responsibilidad na ipinagkatiwala sa amin ng iyong pamunuan at ng ating mga kababayan," Liwag said.

During Liwag's term, Executive Order No. 57, which directed the PCG to play a leading role in the operations of the National Coast Watch Center, was signed by President Aquino.

"The PCG takes pride in being among the first to take part in the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships (RECAAP) in Asia," Liwag said.

Although a product of the public school system having completed his primary and secondary education in his hometown in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija, Liwag graduated as salutatorian. Pursuing a military career in the Philippine Military Academy, Admiral Liwag is a proud member of a long gray line of Matapat Class 1979.

He also wished his successor, Rear Admiral Tan, the 24th PCG commandant.

During the event, the President greeted Liwag who retires today as he celebrates his 56th birthday, the mandatory retirement age for those in the military.

Those who attended the event were members of the diplomatic corps, Ambassador Legowo from Indonesia, Jorge Domecq from Spain, Thierry Borja de Mozota, Ambassador of France to the Philippines; Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma, Police Director General Nicanor Bartolome, Commodore Lino Dabi, Commissioner Ruffy Biazon of the Bureau of Customs. (PCOO)

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, January 23, 2012

Aquino, declares January of every year as ‘Philippine Tropical Fabrics Month’

President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared the month of January of every year as “Philippine Tropical Fabrics Month.”

In Proclamation No. 313 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on January 12, 2012, President Aquino issued the declaration to promote public awareness and use of indigenous textiles in the country.

Under Republic Act 9242 otherwise known as the Philippine Tropical Fabrics Law of 2004, tropical fabrics are defined as those containing natural fibers produced, spun, woven or knitted, and finished in the Philippines. These fabrics are used mostly for the uniforms of government officials and employees.

"The implementation of RA No. 9242 shall raise awareness on the utilization of natural fibers like pineapple, banana, abaca and Philippine silk for textile and allied products and bring about the revival and upgrading of the local textile and garments industries, thus redounding to the creation of livelihood in the agricultural and industrial sectors," the President said.

The Chief Executive noted that Proclamation No. 86 (s. 2010) declared January 24, 2011 as “Philippine Tropical Fabrics Day” under the auspices of the Philippine Textile Research institute (PTRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) which increased interest on tropical fabrics from among the local industries.

In issuing Proclamation No. 313, the President cited "the need to sustain the gains from the celebration of the first Philippine Tropical Fabrics Day and to engage a more active participation of government institutions and local industries on the use of Philippine Tropical Fabrics, as well as local natural fibers."

President Aquino, directed the PTRI-DOST to source funds to defray the cost of the celebration.

He also ordered the PTRI-DOST to ensure that extensive research on the judicious utilization of local natural fibers be continued.

“All fabric producers, textile manufacturers, garments and geotextile industries, including the private sector, associations, institutions and the academe, are hereby enjoined to actively participate in the proper observance of the “Philippine Tropical Fabrics Month” and to partner with the government in bringing about an evolution of the Philippine textile industry as an emerging leader in the global textile market," President Aquino said. (PCOO)

Malacanang says Aquino gov't committed to rationalize sin taxes

Malacanang expressed the Aquino administration’s commitment and unyielding efforts to rationalize the collection of sin taxes in the country to get more revenues for the government that could be used for various developmental programs.

In a press briefing in Malacanang on Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that the amendment to the structure of sin taxes collection is long overdue.

“The situation is this: We are rationalizing the various levels of sin taxes. At present, there are a number of levels - four levelsare that we would like to rationalize...this amendment is long overdue,” Lacierda said.

When asked on the government’s position of entering into a compromise with major stakeholders that will be affected by the rationalization, Lacierda said that the government is not considering such move pending the discussion of the amendments in the committee level.

“No, well, it’s up to the legislators to do that. We have presented our bill and so our position is very clear: we want to rationalize the sin taxes. As to whatever compromises, that is something that they will have to present… I mean, the tobacco industry would have to present their position in the debates in the committee level,” Lacierda said.

The government expects to earn P60 billion a year from the rationalization of taxes on alcohol and tobacco products. Without such a bill, the finance department estimates that government will lose P2 billion to P2.4 billion a year by 2013. (PCOO)

Malacanang says Aquino government implementing measures to contain inflation

The Aquino government started implementing measures to contain inflation amid global economic slowdown, a Palace official said on Monday.

During the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda issued the statement following the forecast of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) that the inflation will be "well-contained until 2013."

"Well, our concern should always be high inflation as it would mean higher prices and all those consequent factors. What the economic managers have so far done is to contain and, in fact, Bangko Sentral has agreed that the inflation rate would be kept and it would be contained," Lacierda said.

Pressures on global commodity prices are seen to continue to abate amid weaker global growth prospects, according to news reports. Due to these developments, the Philippine economy is likely to face external headwinds in 2012.

Lacierda, however, said the Aquino administration remains optimistic that the inflation outlook will remain within the target range.

"And so we believe that we would be able to weather whatever storms that would be coming as long as we manage the economy properly," Lacierda said.

Although the BSP sees a manageable inflation outlook, it remains watchful of the impact of developments in Europe on investor sentiment and global aggregate demand. (PCOO)

PIA News Dispatch - Saturday, January 21, 2012

Aquino leads celebration of 66th foundation anniversary of Liberal Party

President Benigno S. Aquino led Friday the celebration of the Liberal Party’s (LP) 66th foundation anniversary saying he’s a proud member of the party that spearheads reform in the country.

“Sa Liberal Party… hindi natin ipagkakanulo ang ating tungkulin, hindi tayo malilihis ng landas ng prinsipyo, at hindi natin pagtataksilan ang taumbayan,” the President said in his message during the anniversary celebration held at Liberal Party headquarters in Cubao, Quezon City.

“Ang boss natin ay ang mamayang Pilipino. Kinikilala natin ang biyayang kaloob nila sa atin. Ang biyaya ng pagkakataong maglingkod sa kanila. HIndi po tayo nakalilimot sa ating sinumpaang tungkulin at tuwid na tuwid po ang takbo ng bangka ng bayan,” he added.

Under a president who is a Liberal Party member, President Aquino said the country starts the New Year with good news as the government inaugurates many businesses and investments that open more opportunities for Filipinos.

The reforms being initiated by the government started to take effect, according to the President adding this is good for the country because it increases investors’ confidence in putting their businesses in the Philippines.

The Liberal party membership has been increasing, the President said noting it is a good development because more sectors in the Philippines will be represented like farmers, urban poor, workers, women and youth.

“Ang Partido Liberal ay hindi isang pulutong ng mga pulitikong bingi sa pagtibok ng puso ng karaniwang tao, isa itong samahan, isa itong pamilya na binubuo ng mga Pilipinong walang ibang nais kundi ang maiangat ang antas ng lipunan sa pamamagitan ng pagtahak ng tuwid na daan,” he said.

“Karangalan ko pong maging kasapi ng isang partidong kumakatawan sa mga adhikain ng mamamayan. Karangalan kong tahakin ang landas ng katuwiran, katarungan at kaunlaran kasama kayo,” he continued.

The Liberal Party was founded on January 19, 1946 by Manuel Roxas, the first President of the Third Philippine Republic.

Among the well-known members of the Liberal Party who fought the Marcos dictatorship include Senators Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., Gerry Roxas and Jovito Salonga. Many of its leaders and members were prosecuted and killed during the Marcos regime.

In 2000, the party stood against the corruption of the Estrada administration and in 2004 it withdrew its support from President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo following the controversies of the presidential election that year.

Philippine presidents who came from the LP include Elpidio Quirino and Diosdado Macapagal. Ramon Magsaysay and Ferdinand Marcos were also former LP members who later became presidents after leaving the party.

Among the prominent personalities who joined the President during Friday’s event include House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Transportation and Communication Sec. Mar Roxas, Interior and Local Government Sec. Jessie Robredo, Rep. Neil Tupas, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, boxing champ and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, among others. (PCOO)

Malacanang announces new appointments

Malacanang announced on Saturday the appointment of Dr. Emelita V. Almosara as executive director of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

The Office of Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. announced the presidential appointment of Almosara, who served as National Historical Institute’s deputy executive director.

The Palace also announced the appointment of officials for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Mario L. de Leon Jr., Frank R. Cimafranca, and Irene Susan B. Natividad were appointed as chiefs of mission of the DFA.

Rodolfo M. Santos was named as acting Director IV of the DSWD.

The other appointees were Johnson G. Canete and Maria Criselda R. Sy as Directors IV of the DOLE.

Also appointed were Ma. Calpiza J. Sardua and Yvette T. Sunga as acting local government operations officers VIII. (PCOO)

Govt agencies continue to work for benefit of people

Cooperation between national government agencies and local government units (LGUs) continues to produce materials and services that benefit the poor, the Palace said on Saturday.

In a statement, Deputy presidential spokesman Abigial Valte said they got a report from the City Government of Tagum saying it received P19.65-million worth of illegal timber seized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in the Davao region last year.

Through a Memorandum of Agreement between the Tagum City government, the DENR, and the Department of Education (DepEd), the logs were converted into school and hospital fixtures, as well as double-deck beds for soldiers and law enforcers.

“The report stated that about 12,000 of these school chairs, desks, and hospital beds have so far been distributed to our brothers and sisters in disaster-ravaged Davao Del Norte and Compostela Valley Province,” Valte said in the statement.

At same time, Valte also reported that the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) launched their Convergence on Tourism Infrastructure Program aimed at coordinating support for tourism-related businesses in local communities.

The program also forged tie ups between the two departments in constructing the roads throughout the Philippines to reach the country’s tourist sites.

Valte said this in preparation for the influx of 10 million foreign visitors targeted by the government by 2016, as well as ensuring that inclusive growth will redound to the marginalized.

“These reports are reminders of the sea-change in how we do things in this country: a nefarious practice transformed to aid those in dire need; a public-sector initiative rolled out to benefit those in the farthest margins.

The fight for transparency, accountability, inclusive growth, and good governance has many fronts—these stories tell us that we are winning in the fight,” she said. (PCOO)