Thursday, 29 March 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, March 29, 2012

Aquino leads launching of online store for Filipino musicians and music lovers

President Benigno S. Aquino III led on Wednesday the formal launching of the OPM2Go website, an online music store dedicated to serving Filipino artists, musicians and music lovers that hopes to address the proliferation of music piracy.

The website OPM2Go.com aims to help the Filipino music industry by providing a distribution avenue for artists, bands, and musicians so that they may be able to reach a broader audience. It was publicly unveiled during its launch at Eastwood City walk in Quezon City.

During his speech, President Aquino said that the OPM2Go.com will help stop the proliferation of pirated Filipino music in the country as well as protect intellectual property rights musicians and Filipino artists..

“Magandang hakbang din po ito upang malabanan natin ang pamimirata sa musika, kasabay ng pagpo-protekta sa karapatang-ari o intellectual property rights ng mga manunulat at mang-aawit sa kanilang akda. Mulat po kasi tayo sa bawat ilegal na pag-download ng musika, o pagbili ng album na pinirata; ang pangunahing tinatamaan ay ang mga OPM artists,” the President said.

“Wala silang kinikita. Ang masakit pa po rito, alam din nating kasabay ng talento, puspusang dedikasyon ang kanilang ibinubuhos upang maibahagi sa atin ang kanilang mga awitin. Kaya naman, nararapat lang na masuklian natin ang kanilang pagsusumikap, ‘di po ba?,” he added.

President Aquino noted that the music piracy does not only affect the artists and musicians but also the music industry in general.

“Ang totoo po, sa pamimirata, hindi lamang ang mga manlilikha ang nagdurusa, kasama po rito ang buong industriya at kultura ng musika. Kapag hindi natin binigyan ng sapat na insentibo ang mga musikero, baka ipagpalit nila ang gitara at panulat para sa mga trabahong sisigurong may maihahain sila sa kanilang mga hapag,” he said.

“Maaaring kumitid, kung hindi man magsara, ang mga bintanang pinanggagalingan ng kanilang mga obra. Ang resulta, mababawasan ang mapapakinggan ng mga tao; mababawasan ang mga malilikhang mga produkto; mababawasan nang malaki ang buting idinudulot ng musika,” the President stressed.

The OPM2Go website also aims to become the online repository for all Filipino music. Through the newly unveiled website, Filipino artists and musicians will be able to economically and rapidly release their material.

“Sa pagbubukas ng online music store na ito, may bago nang tahanan ang musikang Pilipino. May bago nang lugar ang mga musikero kung saan maipaparinig nila ang kanilang mga obra,” the President noted.

“Bubukas ang pinto upang mas madaling maihandog ang musikang Pilipino sa masang Pilipino, at sa iba pang tumatangkilik nito sa buong mundo. Sa pamamagitan din ng proyektong ito, hindi lamang mas nagiging abot-kaya ang pakikinig sa awiting Pinoy, nagagantimpalaan din natin ang mga lumikha nito,” he added.

President Aquino also expressed confidence that the OPM2Go website will be a success. He also thanked the people behind the said project, including PLDT’s CEO and chairman Manny V. Pangilinan.

The President likewise lauded singer-songwriter Herminio “Ogie” Alcasid Jr., the chairman of OPM2GO Inc. and the president of the Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM) for this worthwhile project.

“Kinakatawan ni Ogie ang klase ng artistang kinakailangan ng panahon ngayon --gumagawa siya ng paraan, hindi lamang upang lumikha ng obra, kundi upang makatulong din sa kanyang kapwa,” he said.

“Tangan ang kanyang talento, pinapaginhawa niya ang buhay ng kapwa niya artista, ng kapwa niya musikero, at ng kapwa niya Pilipino. Isang patunay po ang proyektong ito sa patuloy niyang pakikiisa sa pagbagtas natin sa tuwid na landas,” the President explained.

For his part, Alcasid said that the newly unveiled website was created not only for artists and musicians but also for the people who enjoy listening to music.

The project, Alcasid further said, “will go a long way towards bringing the music to the digital age, and in the long run (it's) something that will help Filipino music.” (PCOO)

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Aquino urges Filipinos to prove their worth as excellent workforce

President Benigno S. Aquino III urged the Filipino people to continuously prove to the world their worth as an excellent workforce by fully maximizing their potentials to realize the goals of the Aquino administration in achieving sustainable progress and the greater task of rebuilding the nation.

In his speech at the inauguration of the Hewlett Packard (HP) Executive Briefing Center and Mission Control Center at the 12th floor of Intellectual Property Center Building along the Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Hill Town Center, Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City on Thursday, the President cited the innate professionalism and positive characteristics of every Filipino worker that has prompted various multinational companies, such as the HP, to include them in their competitive workforce.

“To the Filipinos who will be working here, let us continue to prove to companies like Hewlett Packard that they made the right decision in investing here . . . that the world is beginning to open its eyes to just how much success this country can achieve for itself and its partners is even more important for us to go to work each and every day and put in our efforts no matter how small as individual contributions towards the greater task of rebuilding our nation,” the President said.

“Our countrymen will always find a way to make their work more efficient… to solve problems with the best possible way and to do it all with smiles on their faces, these coupled with the fact that our people are very text (short messaging system) savvy makes most of our countrymen highly employable, I believe our people can and are already playing a major role in strengthening your corporate culture. Perhaps this is why Hewlett Packard claims it has almost doubled the number of Filipinos in their workforce since September, 2010,” he added.

The President encouraged Hewlett Packard to invest more in the country and to continue providing economic opportunities for the Filipino people assuring them of a stable business environment with the reforms being implemented by the government.

“Perhaps in the future you will consider expanding even more in our country and hiring more of our people… I assure all of you today, our government will make certain that Hewlett Packard and other companies big or small will continue to find a stable and predictable business environment in the Philippines,” President Aquino underscored.

Present during the inauguration ceremonies are Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, HP Philippines Managing Director Ryan Guadalquiver and HP Growth Markets Organization Senior Vice President Brian Humphries, among others.

In the same occasion, Hewlett Packard’s has opened two state-of-the-art facilities in the country namely the HP Mission Control and Customer Experience and an HP Executive Briefing Center.

The highly-advanced facilities provide an innovative approach that deliver unparalleled levels of visibility and collaboration as well as faster issue resolution for its customers across the region.

The new capabilities will provide the necessary flexibility to run applications and services that are always available and can easily adapt to new opportunities while rapidly scaling technology resources to meet changing needs. (PCOO)

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Aquino leaves on Monday for Cambodia to attend 20th ASEAN Summit

President Benigno S. Aquino III will depart on Monday for Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to join the other Southeast Asian leaders in the 20th Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN) Summit scheduled April 3 to 4, to discuss and promote the Philippine advocacies with his counterparts.

On April 3, the President and the other ASEAN leaders will meet with the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Representatives, the Civil Society Organizations Representatives, and the Youth Representatives. The President and his ASEAN counterpart leaders will have a Royal Audience with His Majesty Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia.

On April 4, President Aquino and the other ASEAN leaders will also have an exchange of views on international and regional issues and on the implementation of the declaration on the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea during the ASEAN Leaders’ Retreat.

“The retreat is a meeting of all the leaders in a very informal environment and where they can have a freewheeling discussion on issues of common interests and of pressing issues of the day,” Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Teresita Barsana said during a press briefing in Malacanang on Thursday.

Barsana said that President Aquino may raise the issue of North Korea’s planned rocket launch during the ASEAN Leaders’ Retreat.

The President will also join three of his counterparts in the 8th Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit after the concluding session of the ASEAN Summit.

Expected to be discussed during the BIMP-EAGA Summit are the core strategic thrusts of BIMP-EAGA within the next five years in the fields of enhanced transport, power and communication connectivity, food basket strategy in agri-business and fisheries development, tourism development and environment and natural resource development.

Before returning back to Manila, President Aquino will meet the members of the Filipino community in Cambodia. Barsana said there is an estimated 3,000 Filipinos in Cambodia, 2,000 of whom live in the capital and work in the fields of medicine, business and non-government organizations.

The ASEAN Summit in Cambodia, which has for its theme, “ASEAN: One Community, One Destiny,” will formally open at 9:30 a.m. on April 3 and end on April 4. This year‘s summit will also celebrate the 45th anniversary of the ASEAN.

Asean is composed of 10 countries namely the Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. (PCOO)

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Ochoa exhorts Justice Department, Prosecutors League, and the National Prosecution Service to inspire confidence among businessmen

Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. called on the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Prosecutors' League of the Philippines (PLP) and the National Prosecution Service (NPS) to do their share in inspiring confidence among businessmen, who want a return on their investment, and seek security for their persons and their properties.

Speaking at the Prosecutors' League of the Philippines 24th National Convention with the theme "Meeting the Challenges of Global Crime" at the Manila Hotel on Thursday, Ochoa stressed that those in the criminal justice system must exert efforts to complement the plans and programs of President Benigno S. Aquino III and his economic managers to attract investors.

"In sum, the message we should be conveying to the international community is simple: our doors are open for business, but they are closed for crime," Ochoa said.

Ochoa underscored the need to make the Philippines a nation where justice and the rule of law prevail to make our country attractive to investors who can bring in capital and employment opportunities for the Filipino people.

He said the executive department continues to frame policies and measures to lure foreign business firms to invest in the country.

"While it is their job to encourage foreign investors to bring business into the country, it is the job of those involved in law enforcement, like the DOJ and NPS, to discourage international criminal syndicates from operating in this country and victimizing our people," Ochoa said.

"For legitimate businessmen who wish to invest in our country and want a good return on their investment, we will roll out the red carpet and make lives easier for them; for criminals who want to engage in and profit from illegal activities within our borders, we will make business bad for them and will use all the resources of the state so that they are caught, tried, and punished for their crimes," the Executive Secretary said.

Ochoa noted that the President addressed foreign investors last Tuesday at the Philippine Investment Forum and mentioned how the Philippine stock exchange has broken the 5,000-point barrier and hit 21 record highs in the first 21 months of this administration. The Chief Executive also cited foreign direct investments in 2011 grew by 30.6 percent, amounting to 256.1 billion pesos—the highest recorded level in sixteen years.

"As a result of these developments, respected international organizations have given us positive reviews. The World Economic Forum bumped our country ten places up—from 85th to 75th—in their latest Competitiveness Index. The Japan External Trade Organization, after conducting a survey among companies in our region, named us the best place to do business in the Asia-Oceania region," Ochoa said.

Ochoa pointed out that the Philippines is not riding the wave of a global economic upsurge, but on the contrary, the country's economic gains are being made in the midst of global economic uncertainty.

He also took the opportunity to remind those people who are engaged in the criminal justice system about the rising concern on global crime.

"It is a sad reality that global crime—like any legitimate business—is profitable," he said.

At the Presidential Anti Organized Crime Commission, Ochoa said efforts are being made to coordinate the various agencies’ tasks to combat organized criminal activities, with encouraging results.

He said the joint efforts of the agencies involved in the campaign against illegal human trafficking––like the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking led by the DOJ and Department of Social Welfare and Development, the PAOCC, the Philippine Center for Transnational Crime, the Commission of Filipinos Overseas, the Department of Labor and Employment and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration ––have resulted in the increase in the number of rescued victims from 2010 to 2011.

According to the Executive Secretary these accomplishments and the conviction of those responsible resulted in our removal from the United States’ “Tier 2 Watchlist” in 2011. He lauded the DOJ and Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, for taking the lead in our government’s anti-human trafficking efforts.

Ochoa assured the prosecutors and members of the law enforcement agencies of the full support of the President.

"The President has chosen to lead by example and has been unequivocal about ensuring that our people obtain justice, so those tasked to enforce our laws—including those in the prosecutorial service—must be emboldened to ensure that those who break our laws do not profit from their crimes, but are made to pay for them," he said.

The present administration is supporting initiatives to update the eight decades-old Revised Penal Code so that it incorporates the special laws that were enacted after the passage of the code.

Among those present during the event were Secretary Leila De Lima; Mayor Alfredo Lim; Prosecutor General Claro Arellano; PLP President Jonathan Lledo; and officers and members of the National Prosecution Service. (PCOO)

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Aquino declares March 31 as special non-working day in Sipalay, Negros Occidental in celebration of its 11th Charter Day

President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared March 31, which falls on a Saturday, as a special non-working day in the city of Sipalay in Negros Occidental in celebration of its 11th Charter Day.

In Proclamation No. 353 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on March 15, the Chief Executive issued the declaration to give the people of Sipalay the full opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occasion with appropriate ceremonies.

Pasaway sa Sipalay is celebrated every 31st of March, commemorating its cityhood. During the fiesta celebration, Sipalay City will showcase its art and culture through merry making. (PCOO)

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Aquino underscores advances in information technology as vital to sustainable development

President Benigno S. Aquino III encouraged the Filipinos from various sectors of society to utilize the advancements in information technology in further improving their respective crafts to ensure the attainment of sustainable economic progress and development of the nation.

In his speech at the inauguration of the Hewlett Packard (HP) Executive Briefing Center and Mission Control Center at the 12th floor of Intellectual Property Center Building, Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Hill Town Center, Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City, Thursday, President Aquino urged the people to maximize the continuously evolving communications technology in the country citing the substantial improvement in the sector in recent years.

“Today people have the capacity to communicate almost instantly and more freely than ever before, but apart from organizing these movements and facilitating access to information, it is equally vital that every sector of society maximizes these advancements in communications technology… to make progress on other important fronts,” President Aquino said.

“As it becomes increasingly harder to draw a line between virtual reality and actual reality, we are likewise increasingly able to do things that were previously thought of as impossible,” he added.

Present during the opening ceremonies were Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, HP Philippines Managing Director Ryan Guadalquiver and HP Growth Markets Organization SVP Brian Humphries, among others.

During the event, Hewlett Packard opened two state-of-the-art facilities in the country, the HP Mission Control and Customer Experience and an HP Executive Briefing Center.

The highly-advanced facilities provide an innovative approach that deliver unparalleled levels of visibility and collaboration as well as faster issue resolution for its customers across the region.

The new capabilities will provide the necessary flexibility to run applications and services that are always available and can easily adapt to new opportunities while rapidly scaling technology resources to meet changing needs. (PCOO)

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Korean War memorial testament to the bravery and sacrifice of Filipino Expeditionary team, President Aquino says

President Benigno S. Aquino III called the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK) Korean War Memorial Hall (PKWMH) a testament to the bravery and sacrifice of the 7,420 Filipino officers and men who fought with the people of South Korea to regain their freedom in 1950.

In his speech keynoting the inauguration of the said memorial hall in Taguig City on Thursday, the President said the war memorial highlights the courage and determination of the PEFTOK members who “plunged into the fray without hesitation… to lend a hand to a neighbor in peril.”

“This memorial hall is a testament to the bravery and the sacrifice of those who took the burden of war on their shoulders so that a people might be free,” the President said.

“Here, we remember the men of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea. Here, we look back on a shining moment in our history, and we are reminded of the special bonds that have tied our fate to that of the Korean people for more than sixty years,” he added.

Built at a cost of P44-million from funds sourced by the Korean Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs through the Embassy of Korea in the Philippines, the war memorial hall is a two-storey structure that houses a library, an auditorium and a museum depicting vignettes of information on the Philippine contingent during the Korean War.

The President also lauded the on-going construction of the Human Resource Development Center that is being developed right beside the memorial hall.

The President said the center, which is being built through the collaboration among the Korean International Cooperation Agency, our Department of National Defense and our Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, “will help us in strengthening the skills of our countrymen, so that they will be better equipped for employment.”

“Two thousand trainers and school administrators will be trained with the help of TESDA and Korean consultants – developing their capabilities so that their knowledge will redound to tens of thousands more Filipinos. For this, and for all the other ways in which you have helped us for the past six decades, you have our gratitude,” the President said. (PCOO)

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‘My father learned the true value of freedom and democracy from the courage of PEFTOK members and resilience of the South Korean people’ – President Aquino

President Benigno S. Aquino III paid homage to his father, the late Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., whom he said had learned the true value of freedom and democracy from the courage and determination of the members of the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK) and the resilience of the South Korean people during his stint as correspondent covering the Korean War in 1950.

The President said these traits became his father’s “strongest weapons” when he embarked on a political career of his own.

“As a young man, he (the late Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr.) saw the courage and determination of our soldiers and the resilience of the South Korean people. In his dispatches from the front, my father paid tribute to the importance of solidarity, the demands of sacrifice, and the true value of freedom and democracy,” the President said.

“He would return from the war and embark on a political career with these lessons in the back of his mind. They became the strongest weapons he had when he learned what it meant to fight for freedom in a time of peace,” he added.

“When my father opposed a dictatorship that kept the Philippines in darkness for more than twenty years, it was out of a desire to stand in solidarity with the Filipino people, and out of a desire to safeguard the democracy of our country,” the President said.

The President also cited former Korean President Kim Dae-Jung who, like his father, had the same principles of democracy and who also opposed authoritarian rule despite the threat to his life.

“They both knew that it was not enough to have independence. They knew that they could only be worthy of the sacrifice that so many men made during the Korean War if they fought for, and gained true freedom for all their countrymen,” the President said. (PCOO)

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President Aquino calls on Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to halt planned missile launch

President Benigno S. Aquino III appealed to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to call off its planned missile launch, saying it posed serious risks to the lives of the people as well as the stability, peace and prosperity in the region.

In his speech at the inauguration of the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK) Korean War Memorial Hall in Taguig City on Thursday, the President said the planned launch of a so-called earth observation satellite from April 12 to 16, was a needless provocation.

“The use of ballistic missile technology in any launch violates UN Security Council Resolutions, and it presents risks to all concerned. It increases tensions, particularly in the period of uncertainty leading up to the launch—where no one is sure of the trajectory of the missile,” the President said.

“Similarly, debris from the launch may potentially land in our territory. This is a needless provocation not only in the Korean peninsula, but in our entire region. It is with our respective peoples in mind that we urge the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea not to proceed with its planned launch,” he added.

He urged the DPRK to engage the international community “in ways that build confidence.”

“We must work with each other in the spirit of cooperation and with the goal of mutual success. Stability, peace and prosperity in our region requires all of us to continue to engage with each other, and the larger international community in ways that build confidence,” the President said.

“The way forward is for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to engage the international community and return to actions that promote confidence-building among its neighbors,” he added. (PCOO)


‘No need for emergency powers” to address Mindanao power crisis, President Aquino says

President Benigno S. Aquino III thumbed down the proposal for Congress to grant him emergency powers to address the power situation in Mindanao, saying he saw no need for it.


In an interview after inaugurating the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK) Korean War Memorial Hall in Taguig City on Thursday, the President said that the government is working towards expediting the release of the required permits to put up coal fire powered plants in the province instead.

“We’re setting up a coal fire plant which is the fastest (and) will take about two to three years. Part of the process (to be able to put up these power plants) is to get local government authority to set up the plants; environmental compliance (certificates); and public dialogues. Na-delay ‘yung construction of the coal fire plants primarily because it took the two firms that are setting them up in Mindanao close to a year, or over a year, to secure the necessary permits,” the President said.

He lamented the delays in the release of the permits that would have allowed construction of the power plants to begin earlier and thus could have addressed the power requirements of the province.

“…yung one year that it took for all of the permits to be secured could have been one year already in construction and it would have brought us closer by one year, or one year to go na lang, to have the added generating capacity of these two coal-powered plants that, unfortunately, have yet to be constructed because of the delay in securing all of the necessary clearances,” the President said.

“So we are trying to expedite the process at the same time taking into consideration the concerns of the residents that will be affected,” he explained. (PCOO)

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Aquino declares April 2 as special non-working day in Bulacan in commemoration of 224th birth anniversary of Francisco 'Balagtas' Baltazar

President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared April 2, 2012 which falls on a Monday as a special non-working day in the province of Bulacan in commemoration of the 224th birth anniversary of prominent poet and orator Francisco "Balagtas" Baltazar.

In Proclamation No. 355 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on March 27, the Chief Executive issued the declaration to give the people of Bulacan the full opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occassion with appropriate ceremonies.

Known by his pen name Balagtas, Baltazar has been described as the “Prince of Tagalog Poets."

Baltazar was born in Panginay, Bigaa (now Balagtas), Bulacan on April 2, 1788. He was the youngest of the four children of Juan Baltazar, a blacksmith, and Juana de la Cruz.

He worked as a helper in Tondo to support his studies where he met Jose de la Cruz, a prominent poet whose penchant for fighting cocks as payment for his literary works earned him the sobriquet “Huseng Sisiw.”

The popular Filipino debate form Balagtasan was named after Balagtas. He was recognized by the Pahayagang Kastilyano (Spanish publication) and became the front cover for two weeks.

Baltazar is widely considered as the Tagalog equivalent of William Shakespeare for his impact on Filipino literature. The famous epic, Florante at Laura, is regarded as his defining work. He died on February 20, 1862. (PCOO)

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Aquino leaves decision to annul ARMM voter registration list or not to COMELEC

President Benigno S. Aquino III is leaving the decision whether or not to annul the voter’s registration list of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to the Commission on Elections en banc.

In an interview during a lull in a meeting he presided over to discuss and get updates on said list, the President said the COMELEC en banc would know “how to exactly proceed” in addressing the issue.

According to Carmelita Ericta, Administrator of the National Statistics Office who was present in the meeting, a “sharp” increase in the population of the ARMM was noted during the census years of 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2007.

She said that there was a recorded 1.6-million, 2.1-million and 2.8-million people in ARMM in the years 1980, 1990 and 2000; respectively, which then rose to 4.1-million in 2007.

COMELEC chair Sixto Brillantes, who was also present during the meeting, told the President that the election body was “seriously considering annulling” the voter’s registration list of ARMM, a move the President has left to the COMELEC.

“The purpose of this meeting is to share the latest data with regards to the population of the ARMM,” the President said.

“And then the next step is, we are informed, that the COMELEC will meet en banc and decide how exactly to proceed: whether the annulment of the entire registration for the five provinces (of ARMM) should be done or can be done -- they will decide,” he added.

The ARMM is composed of the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. (PCOO)


Aquino orders PNP to end proliferation of private armies

In order to ensure the peaceful and safe conduct of elections next year, President Benigno S. Aquino III has ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to step up its efforts at finally eradicating the proliferation of private armed groups.


In an interview, President Aquino said his order not only covers known lairs of private armies in certain provinces but the entire Philippines as a whole.

“I have tasked the PNP, specifically, for the continuing efforts to remove all of these private armies wherever they exist,” the President said.

“Not only ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao). We’re going around the entire country,” he added.

The President said he had a meeting with his Cabinet and law enforcement agencies to assess and revalidate their information on private armed groups and how to address their existence. (PCOO)

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Coloma receives Quadricentennial Service Award from University of Santo Tomas

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio “Sonny” B. Coloma Jr. was awarded the Quadricentennial Service Award for his important role in the 400th founding anniversary celebration of the University of Santo Tomas (UST), the oldest existing university in Asia and the largest Catholic university in the world in a single campus in terms of student population.

During an appreciation luncheon on Wednesday (March 28) at the UST Main Building Lobby, Espana, Manila, UST Rector Rev. Fr. Rolando V. dela Rosa, O.P. awarded the Quadricentennial Service Award to Secretary Coloma for his magnanimous support the university’s 400th year celebration, rekindling the Thomasian spirit and generating a deeper appreciation of its mission and vision.

The award also recognizes Coloma’s participation as the university’s partner in reaching out and communicating with UST’s various stakeholders about the milestone celebration of its 400th founding anniversary and his reliable collaboration in the final phase of the planning and execution of UST’s Exhibition and Concert at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France aimed at reaffirming the university’s role in building the Church, the nation and the family through the centuries.

Also present during the event were Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim and the recognized alumni of the university who were successful in their respective fields of profession.

The same award was given to the government television network Peoples’ Televison (PTV) 4.

The university was established through the initiative of Bishop Miguel de Benavides, O.P., the third Archbishop of Manila. On July 24, 1605, he bequeathed the amount of P1,500 and his personal library for the establishment of a “seminary-college” to prepare young men for the priesthood. Those funds, and his personal library, became the nucleus for the start of UST and its library.

The founding of the University of Santo Tomas followed on April 28, 1611. The original campus was located in Intramuros, the Walled City of Manila. UST was first called Colegio de Nuestra Señora del Santisimo Rosario, and later renamed Colegio de Santo Tomas, in memory of the foremost Dominican Theologian, St. Thomas Aquinas. (PCOO)

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President Aquino to lead inauguration of Korean War memorial

President Benigno S. Aquino III will lead the inauguration of a memorial honoring the 7.420 valiant Filipino men and women who fought during the Korean War as part of the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK), in ceremonies to be held at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City on Thursday, March 29.

Joining the President for the inauguration of the PEFTOK Korean War Memorial Hall (PKWMH) will be Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin, Ambassador of Korea to the Philippines Hye Min Lee, Korean Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs Park Sung Choon, and Philippine Veterans Affairs Administrator Lt. Gen. Ernesto G. Carolina (Ret).


Funded by the Korean Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs through the Embassy of Korea in the Philippines, the war memorial hall is a two-storey structure that houses a library, an auditorium and a museum depicting vignettes of information on the Philippine contingent during the Korean War.

It houses the PEFTOK Veterans Association office that will cater to the needs of the Filipino Korean War veterans as well as a spacious roof deck that can be utilized for various functions.

The PKWMH was built as an enduring symbol of the Great and Extraordinary Friendship between the Philippines and Korea that grows stronger with the passing of time. (PCOO)

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Aquino vows to meet it's goal of making country one of world's largest economies

President Benigno S. Aquino III vowed to continue implementing all-out initiatives and unrelenting efforts to maximize the innate potential of the Filipinos and the country to achieve the government’s goal of making the country one of the largest economies in the world through reforms founded on political will and programs to end corruption.

In his speech during the Philippine Investment Forum at the Rigodon Ballroom of the Peninsula Manila in Makati City on Tuesday, President Aquino said that the government is steadfast in effecting reforms that will expunge hopelessness, negativity, and empower the people by building a proactive society towards a more progressive economy.

“We are proud of the progress we have made, but we are not satisfied with just this. We Filipinos know just how much potential this country has and we are working even longer nights to fulfill this potential… so many people in government continue to work endless nights to make certain that we build on our momentum—that we continue along this path to progress,” the President said.

“We have fought the culture of naysaying and negativity, and have given a sense of empowerment to our people, replacing the hopelessness of the past with a steadfast commitment to building a society that indeed works. We have put an end to business as usual and proclaimed a country open for real business,” the Chief Executive continued.

According to the President, these efforts have led to a considerable progress in the country’s economy that has breached not just 4,000 but the 5,000 barrier as well in the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi).

These accomplishments were noted by various international organizations gaining the country a renewed investor confidence and presenting its merits as a safe and lucrative investment destination.

“In our relatively short time in office, a significant number of respected international organizations have also given us thumbs up signs. The World Economic Forum, for one, bumped the Philippines ten places up—from 85th to 75th—in their latest Competitiveness Index. The Japan External Trade Organization, after conducting a survey among companies in our region, named us the best place to do business in Asia-Oceania, whether in manufacturing or service. HSBC even recently predicted that, by the year 2050, we will be the sixteenth largest economy in the world. And these are only a few of the companies and organizations that have already changed their mind about the Philippines—and have been very vocal about it,” President Aquino said.

“This renewed confidence from the global community has reflected itself in real pesos and centavos invested in the country. Since we took office in July of 2010, we have seen 449.7 billion pesos in investments in the Philippine Economic Zone Authority. This accounts for 22 percent of all investments in PEZA since it was established in 1995—seventeen years ago. Likewise, in 2011, investment promotion agency-approved foreign direct investments grew by 30.6 percent to 256.1 billion pesos—the highest recorded level in sixteen years,” the President stressed.

The Philippines is also performing well in the bond market having issued 1.5 billion dollars in global bonds with a coupon rate of five per cent – the lowest for an Asian sovereign for that tenor and at better rates than several other investment grade sovereigns like Indonesia, Mexico, Brazil, and even some EU countries like Spain.

“All of this is happening amidst global economic uncertainty. If these facts and figures tell us anything, it is that the Philippines’ success has been nothing less than heroic—that we have experienced high after high in our investment story,” the President said.

Among those present during the forum were Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio “Sonny” B. Coloma Jr. and Euromoney Institutional Investor Asia chief executive officer Tony Shale.

The conference dubbed as “The New Beginning” gathered government officials, top Filipino business executives, local and foreign investors to offer a global audience a balanced perspective on the renewed Philippine investment story.

The key topics to be discussed during the two-day event include Capital markets, Infrastructure, Real Estate and Energy and Power, among others. (PCOO)

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Aquino government lines up eight public-private partnership projects for 2012

The government will roll out this year eight projects under the public-private partnership (PPP) program in a more accelerated pace, President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Tuesday.

Spearheading the Philippine Investment Forum at The Peninsula Manila in Makati City on Tuesday, the President said he has instructed the Cabinet’s economic cluster to speed up the approval of PPP projects so that work could immediately start on the ground.

“There has to be more speed in terms of giving a thumbs up, or a thumbs down to all the various projects that are under consideration. We cannot afford to think of decades upon decades,” the President said during the forum.

“We are missing the opportunities that are already extant," he added.

The country’s PPP thrust is already generating a lot of interest from investors, from building schools, roads, bridges and airports, the President said.

One particular focus is rehabilitation and improvement of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), which now becomes congested as more air traffic is experienced by the country.

“There is a need to really expand our gateways and various studies are underway to determine exactly how best to achieve that,” the Chief Executive said referring to NAIA.

“There are limitations to how much you can expand NAIA especially given the density of the population in the surrounding areas. But that should not stop us from having the facilities available for the tourists.”

There is also a study being done on a proposal to build a nautical highway aimed at cutting down travel time from Luzon to Mindanao, the President said adding that the proponents want to reduce travel time from three days to about 15 hours.

Once this is realized, the President stressed that products coming from the south could easily reach Metro Manila consumers, which, he said, would be a big boost to Mindanao’s agricultural producers.

Last year, the government gave the greenlight for the P1.4-billion four-kilometer Daang Hari-South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) under the PPP projects.

The Aquino administration shortlisted and readied for rollout last year at least 10 projects worth 127.8 billion under the PPP. (PCOO)

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Aquino stresses government’s commitment to attain inclusive growth for Filipinos


President Benigno S. Aquino III stressed the commitment of the government to attain inclusive growth for the Filipinos by creating more economic opportunities as he bared plans to focus on three specific sectors that will eventually uplift the standards of living of the people.

Speaking before the participants during the Philippine Investment Forum at the Rigodon Ballroom, The Peninsula Manila in Makati City, Tuesday, President Aquino shared the various initiatives of the government focusing on agriculture, infrastructure and tourism that will have a considerable impact en route to the country’s economic stability.

“The plan for this year involves focusing on three specific sectors—sectors that will have the largest impact on our economy, and in the lives of our people—that will create much-needed jobs in the timeliest manner, and namely: agriculture, infrastructure, and tourism,” the President said.

In efforts to increase farmer productivity and the facilitation of trade of their produce, President Aquino revealed a more than fifty per cent increase for the Department of Agriculture’s budget intended for more projects within the sector.

“We have increased the budget of the Department of Agriculture by more than fifty percent to 53.3 billion pesos. The bulk of this money will go to more irrigation projects, more farm-to-market roads, and more buying posts—projects that will move us closer to our goal of reaching rice self-sufficiency in 2013, which we believe to be extremely doable,” the President said.

The Chief Executive expressed confidence that the infrastructure projects of the government will reach a hundred per cent completion in the near future with the concerted efforts of the stakeholders within the sector led by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

He added that such projects include the expansion of the country’s transport system to further open the gates of opportunities for more investments not just in Metro Manila but also in the neighboring provinces and regions.

“I am also happy to report that as of last week, that our administration has approved 133 billion pesos worth of projects for different sectors. Most prominent among them is the LRT Line 1 South Extension Project, worth 61.53 billion pesos. The plan is to extend LRT Line 1 by almost twelve kilometers, from Baclaran, through Paranaque and Las Pinas, to Bacoor, Cavite—and with a little luck, perhaps, points further down. In a little while, we will be able to expand transportation, and open the gates a little wider between Metro Manila’s and not just Cavite but the entire CALABARZON region’s economies,” the President noted.

Apart from these, the Chief Executive also mentioned the recent developments in the tourism sector that has resulted from the painstaking efforts of Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez.

“Thanks to a reenergized Department of Tourism care of Secretary Mon Jimenez—and thanks to an excellent marketing campaign, coupled with a liberalized aviation industry — in January alone, the Philippines welcomed more than 400,000 visitors. This is the highest monthly visitor count in our history. And if we can sustain this, we are set to welcome almost 4.8 million visitors this year. This is really close—or this is very close—to five million. We are still quite away from our target of ten million yearly visitors by 2016, but imagine: two years ago, we were expecting only about three million visitors a year; and now there is the possibility of welcoming five million. We still have four years and three months left to reach our target,” the President said.

“As their government, the people are our ultimate shareholders. And we are bound to work in their interest. This is the driving principle behind all our efforts to be competitive… at the end of the day, we want our economy’s growth to redound to better lives for people. We want to leave no one behind on the straight and narrow path to progress,” he added. (PCOO)

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Country remains attractive to foreign investors, Aquino says

The Philippines remains globally competitive in attracting foreign investments despite some criticisms, President Benigno S. Aquino III said.

During the Philippine Investment Forum in Makati City on Tuesday, the President said one of his dreams is to get manufacturing back in the country.

While there are some minor investment issues, the Chief Executive said the quality and quantity of the investors coming in remain good.

For instance, the President said, the Philippines is the fourth biggest shipbuilding country in the world and investors in this sector remain bullish and confident and that many of them are bringing in new investments.

At least two major shipbuilding companies are opening up operations in the Philippines, the President noted as he stressed that aside from shipbuilding, a steel making company is also putting up factory in the country.

“There is a steel manufacturing entity that, I think, is coming in to support these two shipbuilding entities and I was surprised with the steel making because we don’t have the comparative advantage in terms of steel manufacturing in this country," he said.

Lastly, President Aquino said that prospects are also bright with the country’s aquaculture sector adding that the country is seeing the development of enough surplus for the sector to support future value adding or processing. (PCOO)

Monday, 26 March 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, March 26, 2012

Malacañang assures Aquino government's commitment to prevent proliferation of HIV cases in the country

Malacañang assured the Aquino government’s commitment to prevent the proliferation of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) cases in the country through effective information dissemination programs that aim to educate the people on the various ways to avoid being infected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) that causes the dreaded disease.

In a regular press briefing at the New Executive Building in Malacañang on Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that the Department of Health (DoH) remains continuously focused on implementing informative programs to teach the people the facts concerning the fatal infection and the possible ways to protect them from the illness.

Lacierda also noted the importance of decision-making especially to those who are engaged in activities that may pose threat of being infected by HIV.

“The emphasis of the Department of Health is to ensure that the preventive measures to prevent AIDS are being undertaken however this is a social… a personal decision on the part of the people who are engaged in those activities… we continue to promote educational information on the prevention of HIV-AIDS in the country,” Lacierda stressed.

“We find it alarming, and that is the reason why we have asked Health Secretary Enrique Ona to ensure that further information measures be conducted in the prevention of AIDS,” he added.

Recent reports revealed that a 41-year-old man succumbed to AIDS last month which was confirmed by the health department.

The DOH also disclosed 274 newly-confirmed HIV cases in the country last month, the highest recorded in the Philippine HIV and AIDS registry.

The number is 72 per cent higher than that of the record in the same period last year, which saw 159 new HIV cases in February of 2011. The report also bared that 235 cases were transmitted through sexual contact where 87 per cent are males having sex with other males as the predominant type of transmission.

The DOH report said that 24 or 9 percent of the 274 cases were OFWs, including 22 males and two females, from 22-57 years old.

AIDS is a disease of the human immune system caused by HIV. The illness interferes with the immune system, making patients much more likely to get infections, including opportunistic infections and tumors that do not affect people with working immune systems.

Apart from sexual intercourse, HIV may be transmitted through blood transfusion, contaminated hypodermic needles and exchange between mother and baby during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. (PCOO)

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Malacañang says trade department is closely monitoring prices of basic commodities

Malacañang allayed fears on the possible unreasonable increase in the prices of basic commodities due to the rising fuel prices in the world market saying that the trade department is closely monitoring the price movements.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during the regular press briefing in Malacañang on Monday that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is strictly monitoring the prices of basic commodities to prevent unnecessary movement in prices of basic commodities.

"Basically, we have weekly surveys on the market prices. There is substantial increase on some commodities. We have agriculture and market products na medyo tumaas. But over all, the prices have remained constant," Lacierda said.

Lacierda also said the economic managers remain optimistic that the inflation rate will likely remain within target, averaging about 3 percent in 2012. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has set a goal to keep the average inflation for this year within 3 to 5 percent.

"The inflation remains at 3%, and we continue addressing the concerns for the oil prices. Bangko Sentral is looking at a higher rate per barrel before inflation will be changed. It should be around 160 dollars per barrel. Right now, the price per barrel is around 120 dollars," he said. (PCOO)

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Malacañang remains concerned on the effects of spiraling prices on Filipinos

President Benigno S. Aquino III remains concerned and continues to act on the effect of the spiraling cost of goods and services on Filipinos, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said on Monday.
In a briefing, Lacierda said that despite the criticisms, the President is doing everything he can to ease the burden caused by the skyrocketing prices.

“The concerns of the ordinary person reach the President on a daily basis. We know their concerns, we know their problems and I can tell you very frankly that this is a concern that the President deals with and is very concerned with, and that’s why he has issued instructions to his Cabinet to address the situation,” Lacierda said.

“So it is not true that we do not listen to the needs of the people. In fact, we hear their pleas and are addressing their concerns,” he added.

He pointed out that among the social programs implemented by the Aquino administration to help Filipinos cope with the rising prices include providing low cost housing to law enforcement members, healthcare for all and the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program.

”We continue to provide services to the country. We have already mentioned that we’ve provided housing for many of our soldiers and policemen… we have set up RN HEALS (Registered Nurses for Health Enhancement and Local Service) which has deployed 30,000 nurses all over the country, and we have the CCT with over three-million beneficiaries,” Lacierda said.

He pointed out that despite being criticized, the President will continue with his program of government.

“Marami po tayong ginagawa. Kung ayaw nilang maniwala, patuloy pa rin kaming magpapaliwanag dahil yun ang trabaho ni Pangulong Aquino at tuloy tuloy pa ang aming ginagawa rito,” Lacierda said. (PCOO)

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Administration pushes use of electric tricycles to lessen dependence on petroleum

The Aquino administration continues to push for the use of electric-powered tricycles or e-Trikes as part of the efforts to lessen the country's dependence on petroleum, a Palace official said on Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a regular press briefing in Malacanang on Monday that the use of e-Trikes will not only address the impact of the rising fuel prices in the world market but also the pollution problem in the country.

The use of e-Trikes also aims to increase the profits of the drivers and operators.

"The e-Trike is now subject to the approval of the NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority). So hopefully, ‘pag naayos na po ‘yan, we can roll it out. Right now, it’s ongoing in Mandaluyong," Lacierda said.

In its effort to support alternative sources of energy, the Department of Energy (DOE) is partnering with local government units to formulate a program to help cities and municipalities acquire e-Trikes.

A loan facility will be provided by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for industry market transformation through the introduction and adoption of energy efficient e-Trikes. The program aims to deploy 100,000 e-Trikes with lithium ion batteries in various key cities and provinces.

In April 2011, the DOE handed over 20 units of electric tricycles to the City of Mandaluyong and the commercial run of the e-Trikes started in May 2011.

With the help of local entrepreneurs, industry players, and technical experts, the DOE will also start piloting innovations in e-Jeepneys, e-Buses, and e-Cars. (PCOO)

Sunday, 25 March 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Sunday, March 25, 2012

Malacanang rallies Filipinos to 'pitch in' in helping DOT achieve tourist arrivals target

Malacañang called on the Filipino citizenry to “pitch in and do their share” in helping the Department of Tourism achieve its tourist arrivals target of 4.6-million visitors for 2012.

In a press briefing aired over the state-run radio station dzRB, Radyo ng Bayan on Sunday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said that all Filipinos should help the government achieve this reachable goal as the benefits would redound to all.

She pointed out that by simply extending any form of assistance will greatly make our foreign visitors’ stay in the country more enjoyable and more memorable.

“…if you ask us, it is not only the government that can make the (tourists’) visit to the Philippines more enjoyable and more memorable but the contribution of every Filipino,” Valte said.

“It could be something as simple as giving the tourists the right directions or just smiling at them or giving them some assistance, telling them where to go... we can all pitch in to help,” she added.

Valte said the DOT reported that for January 2012 alone, 411,064 tourists representing a 17.5 percent increase from the same period last year, have already visited the country.

She expressed confidence that with the people’s help, the government can sustain this record and achieve the tourist arrivals target for 2012.

“Remember its more fun in the Philippines and it is imperative that we are one for fun in the Philippines... and we will all benefit if we achieve the target of the DOT of 4.6-million visitors for this year,” Valte said.

“Hopefully, we can all pitch in and do our share in making the visit of foreigners to our country more enjoyable and more memorable,” she concluded. (PCOO)

PIA News Dispatch - Saturday, March 24, 2012

Aquino: PNPA graduates lucky to enter reformed government

SILANG, Cavite:
President Benigno S. Aquino said this year’s graduating batch of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) have extraordinary opportunity to enter government service under a reformed government.

The President run for the presidency in 2010 under an anti-corruption platform and in less than two years as Chief Executive, he has carried out numerous reform measures to get rid of anomalies in government.

“Mapalad kayo dahil magandang pagkakataon ang kasalukuyan para pumasok sa serbisyo. Sa inyong pagtatapos, papasok kayo sa isang sistemang tinitingala at hindi pinagbubulungan dahil sa katiwalian; tangan na ninyo ang pambihirang oportunidad na makiisa sa pagtahak sa tuwid na landas,” the President told the graduating batch of the PNPA during the ceremonies held at Camp Castaneda in Silang, Cavite, on Saturday.

As the graduates enter their respective services, the President said it's time for them to reset their mindset, as he warned them about the realities outside the academy.

“Paglabas ninyo sa akademya, bubulaga sa inyo ang mga tukso g katiwalian—susubuking pahinain ang inyong propesyunalismo ng sistemang palakasan, at tutumbasan ng limpak-limpak na pera ang inyong dangal at prinsipyo,” he said.

The country will never be progressive if there are officials who support corruption and act contrary to the expectations of the people, the President said. He added, however, that if government servants work with honesty and dedication, the public will always support them.

“Ang tanong: anong landas ang pipiliing tahakin ng Sinagtala Class 2012? Magiging biktima ba kayo ng mga kamaliang dumungis noon sa reputasyon ng mga tagapagtanggol ng bayan? Alam kong hindi. Alam kong magpapakatatag kayo, at lagi ninyong tatandaan na kakambal ng tinatamasa nating kalayaan, may hinihiling sa ating katapatan at pananagutan,” the President said noting he expects the graduates to uphold the moral values they learned from their parents and from the academy.

“Katahimikan at kapayapaan ang susi ng isang maunlad na bansa. Kung makakaasa ang mga Pilipino na masusunod ang mga batas — na ang bawat mali ay may kabayaran, at ang mabuting gawain ay may mabuti ring gantimpala — magiging matibay ang pundasyon ng ating mga sistemang panlipunan.”

Doing what is right creates a more stable and stronger economy, the President said as it produces more jobs, strong government finances, well-funded education system, and better healthcare. This will eventually liberate the people from poverty, he added.

Of the 220 graduating officers, 185 will be joining the Philippine National Police (PNP), 14 with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and 21 with the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).

Among those who were present during Saturday’s graduation rites were Vice President Jejomar Binay, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jessie Robredo, PNP Director General Nicanor Bartolome, PNPA director Police Senior Supt. Nestor Fajura, and Philippine Public Safety College President Ruben Platon. (PCOO)

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Aquino vows continuing support to police, jail and fire personnel

SILANG, Cavite
: President Benigno S. Aquino III renewed his commitment Saturday to provide the needs of the police, jail and fire officers for them to effectively do their jobs for the benefit of the people.

“Tulad ng ating ipinangako, naitayo na natin ang 21,800 na pabahay sa ating kapulisan at kasundaluhan sa pangunguna ng National Housing Authority. Ngayong taon, tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang programang ito kung saan 31,200 na pabahay ang plano na nating ipatayo,” the President said during his graduation message for this year’s batch of graduates of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) in Silang, Cavite.

Among those who will benefit from the government housing program will be personnel of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) throughout the country, the President said.

At the same time, he said the government focuses on providing training and equipment to the members of the Philippine National Police (PNP), BJMP and BFP.

“Sa taon namang ito, kasado na ang pagkakaloob natin ng personal protective equipment sa ating mga bumbero, at ang pagbili ng mga karagdagang baril para sa ating mga kapulisan,” the chief executive said adding without natural calamities, the government could fund the needs of these personnel.

Last month, the President turned over 1,500 housing units for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and PNP personnel in Trece Martires, Cavite, to provide them with decent housing.

The turnover was part of the 26th anniversary celebration of the Edsa People Power Revolution. Under the housing program, beneficiaries would pay P200 a month in the first five years of their occupancy of the said houses. (PCOO)

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Malacanang optimistic about job opportunities for new graduates

The Aquino government assured that new graduates and job seekers will have the opportunity to avail of jobs in private firms following the influx of foreign manufacturing firms that have shown interest to invest in the country.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte issued the statement in an interview aired over government-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday following reports that over 500,000 college students nationwide are expected to graduate this March.

"Hopefully, a lot of you will be able to secure jobs. Hindi lang po siguro doon sa pribadong sektor, baka pwede rin niyo pong subukan na manilbihan naman po sa pamahalaan," she said.

Valte also advised the new graduates and job seekers to visit the Official Gazette to get information on job openings for various government agencies and offices. "The Official Gazette has all those openings para sa mga interesado na sumabak sa public service," she said.

She said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has lined up several job fairs across the country and advised job applicants to visit the philjob.net website. (PCOO)

PIA News Dispatch - Friday, March 23, 2012

State visit of Amir to boost country’s economic relations between Kuwait

The five-day state visit of Kuwait’s Amir, His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to the Philippines is expected to intensify economic relations and boost investments in the Philippines.

Interviewed by the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) prior to the visit, Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Shulan O. Primavera said economic diplomacy is one of the current thrusts of the Aquino administration aimed at seeking potential foreign investors for Philippine development projects.

Among the Kuwaiti investments in the Philippines include the $2 billion Kuwait and Gulf Link Co. (KGL) investment in Clark Field in Pampanga, the acquisition of the Negros Navigation and interest in investing in metro rail transit (MRT) system, and Intishar's 500-hectare banana plantation in Davao, Primavera said.

Sheikh Sabah is scheduled to unveil the marker for the Sabah Al Ahmad Global Gateway Logistics City, at the Clark Export Processing Zone on Tuesday, March 27.

The Philippines opened the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Kuwait City in 2009 to boost economic cooperation in Kuwait and facilitate several business matching conferences between Filipino and Kuwaiti businessmen.

Kuwait currently hosts more than 140,000 Filipino expatriates with Filipinos ranking as the fourth largest expatriate community in that country, after the Indians, Egyptians, and the Bengalis. In 2009 Kuwait passed a labor law designed to promote the welfare of workers in its private sector.

The visiting Amir of Kuwait and the President are expected to hold bilateral meeting and witness the signing of several agreements.

Among the agreements to be signed by the two countries include: Memorandum of Understanding on Agricultural and Fisheries Cooperation, Agreement on the Waiver of Visa Requirements for Holders of Diplomatic, Special and Official Passports, Executive Program for the Cultural Agreement for the Years 2012-2014, Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Recruitment and Employment of Filipino Household Service Workers, and Memorandum of Understanding in the Field of Labor Cooperation. (PCOO)

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Aquino all set to attend ASEAN summit April 3-4

President Benigno S. Aquino III faces a busy working schedule during the Lenten season as he is scheduled to visit Cambodia to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit on April 3 and 4, a Palace official said on Friday.

"The President will be leaving for Cambodia on Holy Monday. He will be back on Holy Wednesday," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Friday.

Upon his return, the Chief Executive intends to inspect the public transport terminals, as the government is all set to carry-out contingency plans to ensure the safety of the Filipino people and tourists as the nation commemorates the Holy Week.

Last year, Lacierda said the President inspected seaport, airport and bus terminals.

"As with all Filipinos, as with all Filipino Catholics, the President will also be observing the Holy Week, but work goes on. He will continue to be working while we are on Holy Week break," Lacierda said.

Lacierda said President Aquino has yet to disclose where he would spend Black Saturday and Easter Sunday. (PCOO)

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Aquino says government already addressing Mindanao energy problems

President Benigno S. Aquino III said the government is already working on several measures to address the power shortage in Mindanao.

Mindanao is consuming more power than contracted for the region so the government is moving in barges to address the energy shortfall in addition to other plans of the government, the President said during a meeting with Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras in Malacanang.

The President met the energy chief to discuss the Mindanao power shortage. Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda were also present during the meeting which was opened to members of the media.

Currently, there are two power barges that can operate to augment the energy needs of Mindanao, but the President said nobody has signed for contracts to buy electricity.

To entice power distributors to buy electricity from power-producing barges, the President said there must be an arrangement for the equitable sharing of the burden in buying more expensive energy, the President said.

There are also five other power-producing barges that can supply power in Mindanao in 2012 to 2013, the chief executive said.

The government is also constructing base plants which will take around three years to build to address the problem, he added.

The energy department said however, that construction of said hydropower plants may not be viable in the long term because of the changing rainfall pattern in Mindanao that might affect operations.

So the thrusts is to support building more coal-powered plants that can produced cheaper energy compared to solar or diesel-powered barges, Almendras said.

Solving the energy needs of Mindanao is necessary because of government’s plan to provide electricity to 36,000 sitios in the country, President Aquino said.

Also, the President said he has approved a P7-billion reforestation fund Thursday to enhance the remaining watershed areas in the country for the sustainable operation of hydropower plants.

The money will ensure that communities near watershed areas and forests will be able to plant more trees for long-term benefits. (PCOO)

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Aquino to attend 33rd Philippine National Police Academy graduation rites

President Benigno S. Aquino III will be the guest of honor of the 33rd commencement exercises of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) at the Camp Mariano Castaneda in Silang, Cavite this Saturday.

Two hundred twenty members of PNPA’s Sinagtala Class will graduate this weekend.

The PNPA was established under Section 19 of Presidential Decree 1184 and became a primary component of the Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC) pursuant to Section 67 of Republic Act 6975.

The PNPA was created to provide education and training of the three uniformed bureaus of the Department of the Interior and Local Government the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology

The educational institution is committed to develop cadets into public safety service officers imbued with professional competence, management leadership skills, sound moral character befitting of a professional law enforcer and officers.

The philosophy of the Philippine National Police Academy is to instill strong democratic ideals, concepts and processes practiced as a way life through academic freedom, honor system, and respect for authority and human rights.

Other officials expected to join the President during the graduation exercises will be Interior and Local Government Secretary Jessie Robredo, PNP Director General Nicanor Bartolome, PNPA director Police Senior Supt. Nestor Fajura, and Philippine Public Safety College President Ruben Platon. (PCOO)
Aquino welcomes Amir of Kuwait to Malacanang

President Benigno S. Aquino III warmly welcomed His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Amir of Kuwait, who began his five-day State Visit to the Philippines, to Malacañang on Friday.

The Amir, who arrived with his delegation at the Palace grounds at around 5:30 p.m., was accorded full military honors by members of the Presidential Security Group honor guards.

He was then ushered into the Malacañang Palace, as is customary with visiting Heads of State, to sign in the Palace Guest Book prior to the Expanded Bilateral Meeting with the President.

The two leaders discussed ways to strengthen the economic, cultural, and friendly relations between the two countries. In the course of their meeting, the Amir extended a personal invitation to the President for him to visit Kuwait.

The Philippines opened the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Kuwait City in 2009 to boost economic cooperation and facilitate several business matching conferences between the Filipino and Kuwaiti businessmen.

Kuwait currently hosts more than 140,000 Filipino expatriates with Filipinos ranking as the fourth largest expatriate community in that country, after the Indians, Egyptians, and the Bengalis. In 2009 Kuwait passed a labor law designed to promote the welfare of workers in its private sector.

The President wished the Amir a successful visit as he welcomed him to the Philippines. (PCOO)

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Aquino confers Order of Lakandula on visiting Amir of Kuwait

President Benigno S. Aquino III conferred Friday the Order of Lakandula with the rank of Grand Collar (Supremo) on His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber, the Amir of the State of Kuwait, who arrived in the Philippines for a five-day State Visit.

The Order of Lakandula is an Order of political and civic merit awarded in memory of Lakandula’s dedication to leadership, courage and resolve in the service of the people.

The Order of Lakandula is conferred upon a Filipino or foreign citizen who demonstrated strong dedication for the welfare of society and whose life is worthy of emulation by the Filipino people.

The order is also being given to persons who devoted their lives for the peaceful resolution of conflict and to those who fostered mutual understanding, cultural exchange, justice and dignified relations among individuals.

The Order of Lakandula with the rank of Grand Collar (Supremo) is conferred upon individuals who dedicated their lives for the preservation and defense of the democracy of the country. It is also being conferred upon to former or incumbent heads of state and of government.

Upon receiving the Order of Lakandula, Sheikh Sabah, who is in the country for a five-day State Visit, also conferred on President Aquino the Mubarak Al Kabeer Medal.

After the conferment rites, the President hosted a State Dinner for the visiting Amir of Kuwait at Malacanang’s Rizal Hall. (PCOO)

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Aquino and Amir of Kuwait witness signing of agreements between Phl and Kuwait

President Benigno S. Aquino III and His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber, the Amir of Kuwait, witnessed on Friday the signing of four agreements aimed at further strengthening the growing relations between the Philippines and Kuwait in ceremonies held in Malacañang.

The Amir, who is on a five-day State Visit to the Philippines, arrived with his delegation in the country Friday afternoon.

The Amir’s visit to the country is upon the invitation of President Aquino to reaffirm the commitments of the two countries in reinforcing ties and in strengthening cooperation.

The agreements that were signed covered understandings on agriculture and fisheries, labor cooperation, the easing of visa requirements and a program for cultural cooperation.

The Agreement on the Waiver of Visa Requirements for Holders of Diplomatic, Special and Official Passports (signed between Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario and Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al Hamad Al Sabah, deputy head of the council of ministers, minister of foreign affairs and minister of state for the affairs of the council of ministers) aims to facilitate the entry of holders of these passports into the two countries.

The Memorandum of Understanding on Agricultural and Fisheries Cooperation (signed between Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al Hamad Al Sabah, deputy head of the council of ministers, minister of foreign affairs and minister of state for the affairs of the council of ministers) establishes a general framework for cooperation in these fields to foster sectoral development and enhance agri-related trade and investment.

The Memorandum of Understanding in the Field of Labor Cooperation (signed between Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz and Minister Anas Khaled Al Sabah, Minister of Commerce and Industry) promotes cooperation and coordination in the field of labor and encourages both countries to share knowledge through the regular exchange of visits and consultations.

The Executive Program for Cultural Agreement for the 2012 to 2014 affirms the cultural cooperation between the two countries signed in September 1997 to promote the exchange of information, experience and materials in the fields of culture and the arts.

After the signing rites, the President then hosted a State Dinner in honor of the Amir and his delegation at the Malacanang's Rizal Hall. (PCOO)

Friday, 23 March 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, March 22, 2012

Aquino still has people’s trust -- Malacañang says

Malacañang cited on Thursday the latest Pulse Asia Survey showing 70 percent of Filipinos still trusting President Benigno S. Aquino III, “as an indication of support for the President’s fight against corruption and poverty.”

In a statement read during the regular press briefing in Malacañang, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the survey clearly shows that the benefits of the reforms implemented by the Aquino administration are being felt by the people.

“As we have always maintained, public office is a public trust. There is no greater proof that the public is feeling the effects of our reforms than the President’s sustained trust and satisfaction ratings,” Lacierda said.

He pointed out that the President remains committed to achieving the advocacies laid out during his Presidential campaign: to improve the lives of all Filipinos.

“We take these results as reinforcement to push for economic and institutional reforms which will lead to inclusive and equitable growth,” Lacierda said.

The survey, which was conducted from February 26 to March 9, 2012 and based on a sample of 1,200 representative adults 18 years old and above, showed the work done by President Benigno S. Aquino III (70%), Vice-President Binay (84%) and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile (71%) is appreciated by most Filipinos. (PCOO)

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Malacanang says wider US military presence intended to build up Philippine defense capabilities

Malacanang reiterated that the decision of President Benigno S. Aquino III to accept more American soldiers, increase ship visits and expand military exercises between the Philippines and the United States is intended to strengthen the Philippines’s defense capability to protect its borders and has nothing to do with external threats.

“We have to update our military training and capability. As we have always maintained, we first acquired the Hamilton Class Cutter for the purpose of maritime protection and also environmental protection,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing in Malacanang on Thursday.

The President’s Spokesman was responding to questions profounded by Malacanang reporters whether the decision of President Aquino is related to the disputed West Philippine Sea issue.

“Our military hardware is quite not up to date with our neighbors. So it’s imperative for us to update our military hardware and that’s for purposes of our protection for our country. This is primarily to improve our military training and capacity,” he added.

Lacierda stressed that the decision of the President wasn’t prompted by the external threats but is intended to ensure the Philippine military’s capability to protect the country’s borders adding that some Asean-member countries have manifested for a peaceful solution to the disputed West Philippine Sea.

He explained that the arrangement has legal basis and that a new agreement isn’t necessary.

“The parameters would be based on the Visiting Forces Agreement, the Mutual Defense Treaty and also the 1987 Constitution. There are mechanisms involved there. So I think that would be the basis for (the number of) troops (that) will be rotated here in the Philippines for exercises and other related matters,” Lacierda said.

In an interview with foreign media this week, the President said the Philippines would welcome the entry of more US troops in the country on a rotational basis but ruled out putting up permanent military bases.

The Philippines was also asking the United States to build up its defense capabilities, the President said as he emphasized that among the country’s request are the F-16 fighter jets, patrol vessels, transport aircraft and radar systems.

According to the Chief Executive, getting modern fighter jets from the US is a top priority for the Philippines considering that the Philippines is one of the most poorly-equipped in Southeast Asia.

The US has announced recently that it is expanding its military presence in the Asia Pacific as a counterweight to the rising presence of China in the region. Last year, it brokered a deal with Australia to place more troops there. It is also expanding its maritime presence in Singapore and in stepping up deployments in Thailand. (PCOO)

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Aquino to reappoint five cabinet men bypassed by Commission on Appointments

President Benigno S. Aquino III will re-appoint the five cabinet secretaries after the Commission on Appointments (CA) bypassed their nominations because they still enjoy the trust and confidence of the Chief Executive, a Palace official said on Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda issued the statement after the CA bypassed the nominations of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse M. Robredo, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez and Environment Secretary Ramon Paje.

"For one reason or another, hindi na-approve ang kanilang confirmation. But the President continues to trust in these Cabinet members and so the President will continue to reappoint them," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Thursday.

Lacierda said President Aquino has no plans to look for replacements of the said five cabinet secretaries.

"And we hope that at a certain point in time, the Commission on Appointments will find favor with these five Cabinet secretaries and confirm them," he said. (PCOO)

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Kuwait’s Amir arrives Friday for five-day state visit

His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber, the Amir of the State of Kuwait is arriving in the country Friday for a five-day state visit to strengthen Kuwait-Philippine relations.

Sheikh Sabah will arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on board a Kuwait Government Aircraft B747-400. He will be welcomed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Philippine Ambassador to State of Kuwait Shulan Primavera, Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Jose Angel Honrado and Pasay City Mayor Antonino Calixto.

After his arrival, Sheikh Sabah is scheduled to proceed to the Rizal Park for a wreath-laying ceremony and will depart for Malacanang Palace for a welcome ceremony.

Following the welcome ceremony, Sheikh Sabah will pay a courtesy call on President Benigno S. Aquino III at the Music Room of the Malacanang Palace. After the courtesy call, an expanded bilateral meeting will be held between the two leaders.

Joining the President during the courtesy call will include Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo.

President Aquino and Sheikh Sabah will also witness the signing of several bilateral agreements between the two countries following their bilateral meeting.

President Aquino will likewise confer the Order of Lakandula with the rank of Grand Collar (Supremo), on His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber. In turn, Sheikh Sabah will confer on President Aquino the Mubarak Al Kabeer Medal.

In the evening, the President will host a State Dinner for the visiting Amir of Kuwait at Malacanang’s Rizal Hall.

Kuwait’s Ambassador to the Philippines will hold a dinner in honor of Sheikh Sabah during the second day of his state visit. The Amir is also scheduled to visit Tagaytay Highlands on the third day of his visit.

On the fifth day, the visiting Sheikh Sabah will then proceed to Clark Export Processing Zone to unveil the marker for the Sabah Al Ahmad Global Gateway Logistics City. He will depart for Kuwait after the Clark event. (PCOO)

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PHL, Kuwait to sign agreements to further solidify relations

The Philippines and Kuwait will seal several agreements during the five-day state visit of Kuwait’s Amir, His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber, to further cement the growing relations between the two countries.


Sheikh Sabah will arrive in the country Friday afternoon and will meet with President Benigno S. Aquino III at the Malacanang Palace for a courtesy call and bilateral meeting.

Among the agreements to be signed by the two countries include: Memorandum of Understanding on Agricultural and Fisheries Cooperation, Agreement on the Waiver of Visa Requirements for Holders of Diplomatic, Special and Official Passports, Executive Program for the Cultural Agreement for the Years 2012-2014, Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Recruitment and Employment of Filipino Household Service Workers, and Memorandum of Understanding in the Field of Labor Cooperation.

The signatories for the Philippine side will be Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, and National Commission on Culture and the Arts Chairman Felipe de Leon.

For the Kuwait government, the signatories will include Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al Hamad Al Sabah, deputy head of the council of ministers, minister of foreign affairs and minister of state for the affairs of the council of ministers.

The Amir’s visit to the country is upon the invitation of President Aquino to reaffirm the commitments of the two countries in reinforcing ties and in strengthening cooperation.

Kuwait is one of the country’s leading investment and development partners in the Middle East. (PCOO)

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Palace expresses optimism on GRP-MILF formal peace discussions

The continuing talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is a positive indication that both sides are still optimistic towards forging a peace agreement, Malacanang said.

Observers to the formal exploratory talks between the government and the MILF say the developments in the peace talks were a bit slow, fearing that it might result to a stalemate.

But in a press briefing in Malacanang on Thursday, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that while there were difficulties in the talks, both parties did not walk away from the negotiations.

“The fact that the parties continue to push through with the talks is a positive sign that both parties are still hopeful towards arriving at a peace agreement,” he said as he echoed his optimism in the discussion.

Government peace panel chair Marvic Leonen said at the start of the second day of the 26th Formal Exploratory Talks between the government and the MILF that despite difficulties, the peace negotiation with the MILF is moving forward.

Leonen’s statement allays earlier fears of a possible stalemate in the negotiations as both parties continue to trudge on the substantive aspects of the negotiations.

He said that both parties were discussing substantive issues, delving into the heart of the negotiations and describing it as “hard bargaining” on the table.

The government chief negotiators also called on the MILF to work with the government to evaluate reasons and standpoints and see their political viability, noting that “there are goals more appropriate rather than sticking to our encrusted positions.” (PCOO)


Wednesday, 21 March 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Malacanang says Azkals 3rd place win in Asian Football Challenge Cup in Nepal proves Filipinos are equipped to achieve global success

Malacanang said the victory of the Philippine Azkals football team which made history by defeating Palestine in a thrilling game to finish third place in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup 2012 on Monday afternoon in Nepal is a manifestation that Filipinos are equipped to truly achieve global success in the sport.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte issued the statement on Tuesday evening after the Philippine Azkals achieved another milestone for Philippine football, clinching the historic 3rd place in the tournament.

It was the Philippines' best ever finish in the biennial tournament for developing football nations.

"Our countrymen put four goals past the Palestine keeper en route to winning third place in the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup—the highest our country has ever placed in the competition. Our players took the field against some of the better teams in the region, including eventual champions, DPR Korea," Valte said.

Valte said the Aquino administration joined the Filipino people in congratulating the national team for its feat.

The administration likewise congratulated striker, Phil Younghusband, who scored the most goals in the entire tournament to receive the Golden Boot award.

"Despite the odds, our players and coaches exceeded expectations, gave us reason to be proud, and taught us to believe that we can truly achieve global success in the sport, as long as our players remain dedicated to improving themselves individually and as a team," Valte said.

"The Aquino administration believes this is an attitude that all Filipinos can learn from and apply. Our Philippine Azkals have made all of us believe that when the Filipino remains dedicated, and works hard, then our country can continue enjoying success, both on and off the football pitch," she said. (PCOO)

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PHL joins other foreign governments in urging Democratic People’s Republic of Korea not to proceed with plan to launch satellite

The Philippine government joined other foreign governments in urging the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) not to proceed with its plan to launch a satellite between April 12 and 16 and to adhere to its pledge for a moratorium on long-range missile launches, nuclear tests, and uranium enrichment activity.

"We express grave concern over the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) announced plan to launch a satellite between April 12 and 16, which we find unacceptable," Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario said in a statement which was read by Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Wednesday.

Del Rosario said the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions 1874 (2009) explicitly demands that the DPRK not conduct any launch using ballistic missile technology. The same resolution, together with UNSC Resolution 1718 (2006), also decided that the DPRK suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program.

"We strongly urge the DPRK not to proceed with its planned launch and abide by these resolutions, which call for the abandonment of its ballistic missile program in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner," del Rosario said.

"The DRPK’s return to confidence-building and engagement with the international community is key to the continued stability and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and the entire Asia-Pacific region," he said.

The United States, Russia, China and South Korea, as well as the United Nations all voiced their concerns over a satellite launch plan announced by the DPRK. (PCOO)

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Aquino government working to upgrade Philippine aviation status

Malacanang said the Aquino government is working double time to ensure that the country’s aviation status is reverted back to the Category 1 level to aggressively promote the tourism sector and reach a wider market.
In a press briefing in Malacanang on Wednesday, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the government is concerned about the effects of the recent aviation status of the Philippines particularly on the tourism sector.

“We are always concerned especially since we are promoting tourism as one of our growth sectors and so we would like to harness also the markets in Europe. Our status prevents us from promoting fully our tourism industry. And so therefore we are concerned about accelerating the efforts to remove us out of Category 2 status,” Lacierda said.

In a forum with Filipino-Chinese businessmen last week, the President said his administration is working double time to secure Category 1 status with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as well as removing the country from the European aviation blacklist.

Once these stumbling blocks are removed, the President said he expects the number of foreign tourists to increase. At present, the country has four million tourist arrivals each year, and President Aquino said he hopes to increase it to 10 million every year by 2016.

Based on the recent technical review conducted by the FAA on the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) there are 23 “critical elements” (CEs) that have to be addressed before the country’s aviation status can be reverted back to the Category 1 level.

The CAAP officials said the CEs identified are relatively minor issues that are being addressed by the government. These issues include fine-tuning of the Philippine Civil Air Regulations, changes to the CAAP’s safety and oversight structure, updating its database storing system, standardizing their certification of safety inspectors and the revalidation of airline carriers, among others.

The FAA downgraded the Philippines to Category 2 status in 2007 after finding 88 critical elements. The CAAP has so far addressed 65 of those issues.

The CAAP noted that being at the Category 2 status doesn’t mean Philippine air carriers are banned from flying to the US, but added that the downgrade prevents new service to be added to the US until all issues are resolved. (PCOO)

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Aquino wants Mindanao power problem resolved

President Benigno S. Aquino III has instructed the Mindanao Development Authority to convene and address the power problems in Mindanao, a Palace official said on Wednesday.

During the regular press briefing in Malcanang, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that in response to the President’s directive, the Mindanao Development Authority has already convened the stakeholders in the energy sector—the cooperatives and the local government units (LGUs).

Lacierda said the Mindanao Development Authority had also conferred with the congressional leaders in Mindanao and coordinated with the Department of Energy (DOE).

In addition, Lacierda said there are short- and long-term measures that have to be taken and those matters will be discussed by the DOE and by the Mindanao Development Authority.

Part of the short-term measures being considered is sending power barges to Mindanao to augment the power production there. Lacierda said, adding that the government is already arranging contracting power barges provided by private companies as temporary relief for Mindanao’s energy problems.

“But there has to be a complete, comprehensive plan on making sure that the power shortages are addressed and that’s being done,” Lacierda said.

According to the Presidential Spokesperson, there is also a need for the review of the Republic Act 9136, or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) based on the recommendation of the energy department.

Congress also plans to look into the power situation in Mindanao in a bid to address an apparent power shortage. (PCOO)

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Aquino appoints more officials in government

President Benigno S. Aquino III has appointed new officials for various posts in the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB), the Department of Finance (DoF) and the Office of the President, a Palace official said on Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda announced on Wednesday during the regular press briefing in Malacanang that President Aquino has approved the nomination of Primitivo Y. Garcia III as member of the Board of Directors of the UCPB. He replaced Ma. Angela E. Ignacio.

Garcia, 57, served as President of the Prince Group of Companies, a developer of low and middle cost housing subdivisions and other real estate properties in Laguna and First Prince Management Corporation which is engaged in the marketing and operation of a memorial park in Tanauan City, Batangas.

He also worked as administrator and general counsel of the Zosima Incorporated and President of the Gerontology and Real Estate Development, Inc.

Garcia finished his Bachelor of Arts major in Economics from the De La Salle University in 1975 and obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1980.

The Chief Executive also signed the appointment of Camilo L. Montenegro as member of the Central Board of Assessment Appeals (CBAA) of the Department of Finance replacing Rafael O. Cortes. His term will expire on January 6, 2018.

The 73-year-old Montenegro graduated his Bachelor of Science in Commerce degree from the University of the Visayas in 1963 and passed the Philippine Board of Accountancy in the same year. He obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Visayas in 1968 and was admitted to the Bar in 1970.

Montenegro worked in the Superior Gas and Equipment Company of Cebu as Finance Officer and Resident Counsel, and Bookkeeper from 1961 to 1992. He served as hearing officer for Visayas, Central Board of Assessment Appeals on hold-over capacity.

President Aquino likewise appointed Yasmin Busran-Lao as Presidential Assistant for Muslim Concerns in the Office of the President.

Born on April 1, 1961, Busran-Lao is the chairperson and founding president of the Al Mujadillah Development Foundation, Inc., a women's organization based in Marawi City which promotes gender-sensitive peace and development initiatives among Maranao communities in Mindanao. She is a founding chairperson of the Nisa Ul-Haqq Fi Bangsamoro, a Mindanao-wide network for women promoting gender justice and equality in the context of Islam and the aspiration for Moro self-determination.

She finished Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the Far Eastern University in Manila and pursued higher education in Clinical-Counseling Psychology from the Ateneo de Manila University. She took up masteral units in Muslim Personal Laws from the King Faisal Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies in Mindanao State University in Marawi City. She also took up masteral units in Islamic Studies from the Institute of Islamic Studies, Asian Center of the University of the Philippines. (PCOO)

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Aquino not affected by criticisms; remains focused on governance

The Aquino government will continue to perform and do its responsibilities despite all criticisms by detractors bearing in mind the more important tasks of improving the economy and ensuring the welfare of the Filipino people, a Palace spokesman said on Wednesday.

Whatever criticisms are leveled against the government, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Wednesday that what is important is that the government is able to carry out reforms that benefit the country’s economy and the poor.

“Other countries would see our economic indicators and that’s the reason why you see a lot of foreign investors coming in,” Lacierda said.

According to Lacierda, the President isn’t affected by criticisms and doesn’t take those comments personally knowing that being in a public office could entail harsh criticisms from detractors.

“The best evidence is that the President is answering you straight and that’s his style. He doesn’t take things personally,” Lacierda said.

“Alam niyang may magbabatikos. Kasama po ‘yan sa trabaho and somebody who is in public service should learn how to have what we call in law “pachyderm skin” kasi talagang may babanat at may babanat sa’yo.” (PCOO)