Thursday, 26 April 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, April 26, 2012

Aquino declares April 30 as special non-working day in Dagupan in celebration of its Bangus Festival

President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared April 30, which falls on a Monday as a special (non-working) day in the city of Dagupan in Pangasinan in celebration of its Bangus Festival.

The Chief Executive issued the declaration through Proclamation No. 371 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on April 25 to give the people of Dagupan the full opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occasion with appropriate ceremonies.

The Bangus Festival kicked off on April 13 with the holding of Bangus Ed Carosa Parade and a Grand Opening Ceremony. The celebration will end on May 1.

The festival captured the world’s attention in 2003 when the city won the world Guinness record on the longest barbecue pit. The participants put 2,000 barbecue grills side by side along a two-kilometer road at the heart of the city (the A.B. Fernandez Avenue), and barbecued no less than 24,000 pieces of the city’s main delicacy - the bangus.

Peru overtook Dagupan's record in 2004, which Dagupan recaptured the following year. (PCOO)

Aquino receives Italian professor and journalist in Malacanang

President Benigno S. Aquino III received an Italian professor and journalist who also leads the public lay association Community of Sant'Egidio, which is recognized by the Catholic Church for their social development programs and bringing the people closer to God.

In a courtesy call at the Music Room of the Malacanang Palace on Thursday, Professor Marco Impagliazzo met with President Aquino where they discussed several topics that include the group’s campaign against the imposition of the death penalty globally and the plight of the Overseas Filipino Workers in Italy, among others.

Also present during the event were Ambassador Luca Fornari of the Embassy of Italy in the Philippines; Alfonso Tagliaferri, deputy head of mission of the Embassy of Italy; Valeria Martano, director of South East Asian Department, Communita di Sant'Egidio; Henrietta de Villa, former Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles.

The community of Sant'Egidio (Communita di Sant'Egidio) is officially recognized by the Catholic Church as a "Church public lay association".

Its 50,000 members from more than 70 countries worldwide are focused on several activities that include prayer, centered around a reading of the Bible; spreading the Gospel to help people who are looking for a sense to their life; service to the poor that is free and unpaid; commitment to ecumenism (the Community of Sant'Egidio is also ecumenical, though being rooted in the Catholic Church) and dialogue with members of other religions and non-believers.

Founded by a group of Roman high school students led by Andrea Riccardi in Rome in the year 1968, the Community of Sant'Egidio was named after the Roman Church of Sant'Egidio (Italian for Saint Giles) in Trastevere, its first permanent meeting place.

Since then, the community has gathered each night to pray and read from the Bible, reflecting on the Gospel, eventually spreading throughout the world with a mission of helping those in need. Their activities include setting up refuges for the old, hospices for AIDS patients, and printing a handbook titled "Where to Eat, Sleep, and Wash in Rome" as gift to the homeless. (PCOO)

Aquino receives House Speaker of Malaysia in Malacanang

President Benigno S. Aquino III received one of Malaysia’s high-ranking officials in Malacanang and discussed various issues to further enhance the long-standing relations between the two countries.

In a courtesy call to President Aquino, Tan Sri Datuk Seri Utama Pandikar Amin bin Haji Mulia, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Malaysia met with the Chief Executive at the Music Room of the Malacanang Palace on Thursday.

Speaker Pandikar was accompanied by his wife Puan Sri Diana Diego; Ambassador Dato Seri Dr. Ibrahim Saad of the Embassy of Malaysia and Haji Saleh Kalbi, member of the Malaysian Parliament for Silam.

Also in attendance were Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Tess Lazaro.

Prior to his call on the President, Speaker Pandikar signed the official Guestbook of the Palace.

Pandikar was a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department before assuming the Speakership of Dewan Rakyat, the lower house of the Parliament of Malaysia.

A member of the United Malays National Organization, Pandikar became the new Speaker by the Barisan Nasional Coalition after the 2008 general elections.

Pandikar had previously served as the Speaker of the Sabah State Assembly from 1986 to 1988. (PCOO)

Aquino to lead turn-over of housing units to survivors of Typhoon Sendong in CDO

President Benigno S. Aquino III will lead the turn-over on Friday of the newly constructed permanent housing units to the victims of Typhoon Sendong in Cagayan de Oro City.

The President will distribute certificates of awards and certificates of acceptance from the local government of Cagayan de Oro City and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to some 700 families that comprise the initial batch of beneficiaries.

The government has started relocating affected residents from a ‘tent city’ to their new housing units in the Calaanan relocation site this week.

The government prioritized relocating the 500 beneficiaries and transfered them to Calaanan resettlement Phase 3 in Canitoan Village. These include the 200 families from Bgy. Macasandig who will be the first occupants of the Indahag Phase 1 resettlement site.

The development of the relocation sites was realized through tie ups with the DSWD, the local government of Cagayan de Oro and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The DSWD funded the construction of the houses while the city government of Cagayan de Oro and the DPWH developed the relocation site.

Each quadruplex housing unit, measuring 40 square meters, costs around P70,000, according to the DSWD. The National Housing Authority (NHA) also contributed additional P40,000 with the help of the Habitat for Humanity.

Aside from receiving permanent shelters, the beneficiaries will also receive livelihood assistance worth P975,000 from the government. The money will be released through the associations organized by the beneficiaries.

With that amount, the government hopes that the typhoon survivors can engage in income generating activities such as trading RTWs and cosmetics, opening up sari-sari stores, dressmaking, tailoring, longganisa-making and food processing. (PCOO)

Recto Bank gas deposit is good news for the country, Palace says

Malacanang welcomed reports confirming a huge amount of natural gas in the Recto Bank saying the gas deposits could support the country’s future energy needs.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in the regular press conference in Malacanang on Thursday that while the Palace welcomed the news, it will wait for the report from the service contractors exploring the area.

“We will wait for their disclosures. Secretary Almendras is now waiting for their report. But certainly it will be another source of energy for us and natural gas is cheaper than gas and so it’s going to be good for us,” he said.

“We’re confident that if that has been proven it will definitely help us in our energy needs,” Lacierda stressed.

Asked whether the Philippines is concerned over the discovery because China is also claiming the Recto Bank, Lacierda said “We have always maintained that Recto Bank is within 70 nautical miles of our—the lowest point, so we believe that it is ours.”

But the Presidential Spokesperson said he doesn’t want to give further comments due to the sensitivity of the issue and would leave it to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to handle.

According to a UK-based energy exploration company, results from 3D seismic surveys conducted in 2006 “indicated a mean volume of 3.4 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas in place from sands tested in the three wells drilled to-date…” in Recto Bank.

The 2006 3D seismic survey showed that the gas in place is about 21 percent more than the reserves in nearby Malampaya gas field.

Recto Bank, also known as Reed Bank, is part of a territorial dispute between the Philippines and China involving the Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippine government said the ownership of Recto Bank is indisputable because it is only 70 nautical miles west of Palawan, and closer to the country’s mainland compared to the Scarborough Shoal, another flashpoint off Zambales. (PCOO)

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Aquino joins supporters in book launching, asks for continued volunteerism

President Benigno S. Aquino III led the book launching of the People Power Volunteers for Reform (PPVR) and asked the volunteers to continue advocating reforms in society even after his assumption to power.

PPVR is a national coalition of citizen volunteer assemblies that supported the presidential campaign of President Aquino when he ran for the presidency in the May 2010 national elections.

The volunteer organization is also a partner of the government in realizing the President’s campaign slogan: “Kung Walang Corrupt, Walang Mahirap.”

The President, who was supposed to deliver a prepared speech, opted to have a question and answer with his supporters asking them to air their views and concerns.

Asked about his thrusts on reforming the justice system, the President said the people can help his government in many ways. For instance, he said, the public can give information to the government and serve as watchdogs against corruption.

Volunteers can assist government agencies in maintaining public order, peace, and environmental protection, he added.

One volunteer asked the President how he will sustain the momentum of fighting corruption even after he steps down from power.

“Ang ambisyon ko kasi... ang laki na ng ipinagbago, na ito na yung normal. Kung boses ko mag-isa, anong magagawa? Kung boses ng marami na ang magsasabi dun sa mga papalit sa atin -- ‘Hoy ito yung minimum standard, itong iniwan natin.’ Siyempre ambisyon ko naman na hindi na masyadong nakasentro sa atin,” the President stressed.

“Siyempre inaambisyon natin… yung maayos na lipunan, progresibo, mapayapa, normal na sa Pilipino. Magagawa ho yan kung yung hahalili sa atin ay hindi nag-aambisyon na baka back to before at doon tayo magtulungan nang husto,” he said.

During the event held at Xavier School in Greenhills, San Juan, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman presented the President the book entitled: “People Power Volunteer for Reform.”

Prior to its publication, the PPVR undertook a coalition-wide mapping in the latter part of 2011 to determine the composition, activities and capabilities of its members. The mapping led to the publication of the PPVR’s book that was launched Tuesday. (PCOO)

Aquino wants China's bullying tactics be known by international community

The Philippines is raising awareness in the international community about its current stand-off with China to make the global community of nations know how China threatens smaller countries like the Philippines.

“Ang ginagawa po natin, talagang parang pinakasandata po natin dito ay ang malaman ng buong mundo kung ano ang ginagawa sa atin dahil ang... Marami silang relasyon sa iba’t-ibang bansa sa mundo na mapapag-isip ang mga ibang bansa rin naman,” the President said during the book launching of the People Power Volunteers for Reform (PPVR) on Tuesday in Greenhills, San Juan.

“Kung ganito tayo tinatrato at sila’y kasinlaki natin o mas maliit sa atin... baka dumating ang panahon ganoon rin ang pagtrato sa kanila,” he added.

While the Philippines continue to pursue its claim of the Scarborough Shoal, the President said he doesn’t want an escalation in the area. But he explained that under the Constitution, it is his duty to defend the country’s patrimony from foreign intrusion.

He said that the disputed area has been part of the Philippine territory and was recognized by international law, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) where both China and the Philippines are signatories.

“And that’s the only thing we’re asking. Sumang-ayon tayo dito, nilagdaan nung ating mga kinatawan, nandoon rin tayo doon sa treaty on endangered species na di ba nakita naman po n’yo ’yung pinagkukuha nung mga mangingisda nila. Tuparin lang po natin ‘yung mga obligasyon, ayon doon sa mga kasunduang pinirmahan ng mga awtorisadong representante natin,” he said.

The Philippines has six options in resolving the Scarborough Shoal issue and it can go to the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), he said, noting however that elevating the issue to the international court requires China’s approval. (PCOO)

Government finalizing new mining policy, Aquino says

The proposed Executive Order on new mining policy has gone through Malacanang and the proposal is being presented to various mining stakeholders before its final approval, President Benigno S. Aquino III said.

“Dumaan po sa akin ‘yung proposed executive order. I understand this is being run through the various stakeholders,” the President said during the book launching of the People Power Volunteers for Reform (PPVR) in Greenhills, San Juan on Tuesday.

According to the President, among the issues being discussed with the stakeholders were ecology, the role of mining companies and the local communities.

He said he’s awaiting the results of the consultations but expressed his reservations on some of the features of the new mining policy.

“We get something like two percent of the proceeds… And in a very simplistic way of looking at it, 100 percent of the problem, if there becomes a problem, is our problem. But of the proceeds only two percent is ours to take care of the 100 percent of the problem. Hindi yata fair,” he said.

There has to be an increase in what government gets from mining operations in the country, the Chief Executive said.

He also disclosed that there are at least 78 sites designated as tourism sites that will not be exploitable to mining interests. Also, some provinces negatively affected by mining operations before will be banned from mining activities.

The mining industry has been expecting the immediate release of the new mining policy in the country claiming that the industry lost significant amount of investments last year because of the absence of new mining policy.

The government acknowledged that an inconsistent mining policy has been a problem in the country in the past several years, and the Aquino administration wants to have a definitive mining guidelines that will boost the local mining industry and attract more investments. (PCOO)

Government has to come up with best solution to the country’s energy needs – Aquino

President Benigno S. Aquino III vowed to address the country’s growing energy needs but stressed the need to come up with the best solution after extensive consultations with different stakeholders.

During the book launch of the People Power Volunteers for Reform (PPVR), one volunteer appealed to the President not to allow the putting up of a coal-powered plant in Subic Bay in Zambales because of its effects on the environment.

The President said an all-inclusive consultation with stakeholders will be done before the government decides on the best solution to the country’s power problems and the best means to produce more energy.

There has been strong opposition against coal-powered plants as well as gas plants in the country. Newer and cleaner means of energy production on the other hand, are costly, according to the President, citing solar energy and ocean tidal wave. Lack of water due to changing weather patterns is also becoming a concern in operating hydro-powered plants, he said.

“I won’t comment specifically on the Subic coal plant. Pero, at the end of the day, we really have a growing population. We have a growing base. Yung manufacturers nagbabalikan na—everybody needs electricity and we have to produce it somehow. We will always do it in consultation with the people,” the President said.

The President explained that Subic is not just a tourist site but it’s also a locator site for manufacturing companies.

He pointed out that setting up a power plant whether in Pampanga, Tarlac or Bataan should be done after knowing the pulse of the people.

“We will try to come up with a best solution. But at the end of the day, we are forced to come up with a solution,” he said. (PCOO)

Aquino focused on efforts to end armed conflict with MILF

A prominent member of the peace negotiating panel of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) bared the sincere commitment of the Aquino administration to end the armed conflict with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) through the crafting of an accord favorable to both parties as he expressed optimism that the long wanted peace will be attained with the signing of an agreement between the two panels soon.

In a teleconference held during a press briefing in Malacanang on Wednesday, GPH chief negotiator Marvic Leonen reiterated that the government remains focused on exerting necessary efforts to end the long-standing conflict with the MILF.

“The GPH, as is our principal, His Excellency President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, remains sincerely committed to working towards a negotiated, comprehensive, political settlement with the MILF to address the Bangsamoro question,” Leonen said.

“Today we move forward with a healthy amount of optimism recognizing the need now, more than ever to be guided by lessons from the past… we look forward to coming weeks of more thorough perhaps more difficult conversations with the MILF and various affected sectors,” he added.

Leonen cited the urgency of formulating a solution as soon as possible to pursue development in the affected areas which will eventually push for more progress within the entire nation.

“Kinakailangan na i-address ang reasons and root causes of this armed conflict as soon as possible so that the underdevelopment of that area, as well as the development of our entire country can be aided by this peace process,” Leonen said.

Leonen together with the other members of the GPH peace negotiating panel are still in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia attending the 27th Formal Exploratory Talks with the MILF.

On Tuesday the government and the MILF made a breakthrough during the talks by identifying preliminary decision points on principles that will be serving as the framework for the eventual signing of the peace pact. (PCOO)

Peace talks with MILF agree on framework for final peace agreement

The Government of the Philippines (GPH) peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has made a major step forward with the signing of the decision points on principles that will serve as a framework for the eventual signing of a peace agreement.

As the 27th Round of Exploratory Talks concluded on Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, both panels signed the document which provide a new level of momentum in the negotiations. The parties will meet again in May 2012.

Both parties acknowledged the roles played by the Facilitator and the International Contact Group (ICG) in reaching this breakthrough.

The document was signed on Tuesday by GPH Panel chairman Marvic M. V.F. Leonen, MILF Panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal and witnessed by Malaysian Facilitator Tengku Dato' AB Ghafar Tengku Mohamed.

"The Parties expressed their appreciation to His Excellency President Benigno Simeon Aquino III for his commitment to a just and lasting peace in Mindanao, to His Excellency Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak for his continued support in the facilitation of the GPH-MILF Peace Talks and the MILF Central Committee headed by chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim for its continued commitment to the resolution of the Bangsamoro Question," the parties said in a joint statement.

The parties also extended their gratitude to the members of the ICG, namely, Japan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, Conciliation Resources, Muhammadiyah, and The Asia Foundation.

"This marks a significant and concrete step forward by both Parties in their discussions of substantive issues in these negotiations," Leonen said.

"For the GPH, this document is a preliminary listing of common points, which the Parties have mutually identified, coming from their respective initial positions: the MILF, from their February 2011 Revised Comprehensive Compact, and the GPH, from its 3-for-1 August 2011 proposal," he said.

Leonen also stressed that the document is not the final peace agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

"With the signing this document, indeed, comes the mutual recognition of the Parties that there are various outstanding issues that still require further or more detailed discussions between the Panels and more difficult decisions for their Principals, such as issues pertaining to the geographic scope of the autonomous political entity, power sharing and wealth sharing between the entity and the National Government, mechanisms for implementation of the agreement and the contours of a normalization process, which will include details on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration," Leonen said.

He said such outstanding issues, as well as the points contained in the document, will be contextualized in the final agreement.

Leonen said the parties recognize the Bangsamoro identity and the legitimate grievances and the claims of the Bangsamoro people. The parties agreed that the status quo is unacceptable and that the parties will work for the creation of a new autonomous political entity in place of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The parties agreed that the new autonomous political entity shall have a ministerial form of the government as well as to the need for a transition period and the institution of transitional mechanism in order to implement the provisions of the agreement.
They likewise agreed that the defense and external security, foreign policy, common market and global trade, coinage and monetary policy, citizenship and naturalization and postal service are reserved for the competence of the national government.

The parties agreed that the wealth creation is important, as well as the need to strengthen the Shari'ah courts and to expand their jurisdiction over cases. They agreed that the government of such political entity "shall also ensure guarantees of human rights and liberties for its inhabitants, such as religious freedom, the right of women to meaningful political participation, and freedom from ethnic, religious or sectarian harassment, in addition to rights already enjoyed.

"We look forward to the coming weeks of more thorough (perhaps, more difficult) conversations with the MILF and various affected sectors, with the understanding that only through peaceful and candid dialogues, open and public consultations and continuous reflections can a sincere, effective and acceptable solution be arrived at," he said. (PCOO)

Government probes demolition of structures at Silverio compound in Paranaque City – Palace says

Malacanang said that the government is conducting a thorough investigation on the demolition of some structures within the Silverio compound in Paranaque City that has turned into violence as it assured full cooperation from the Philippine National Police (PNP) during the probe to ferret out the truth on accusations of violation of human rights.

During a press briefing in Malacanang on Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda gave the assurance saying that two specific investigations are presently being conducted – one by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and another by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) – upon the order of President Aquino.

“When the incident happened, Secretary Jesse Robredo was tasked by the President (Aquino) to immediately order the investigation. And so there are two pending investigations right now — one being conducted by the DILG and one being conducted or will be conducted by the Commission on Human Rights… we have committed to the Commission on Human Rights that we promised full cooperation on the part of the PNP in the investigation with the CHR,” Lacierda said.

“We are looking into the whole incident not only on the abuses by the policemen when some of the rallyists were inflicted harm while under handcuffs. We’re also looking into why it happened,” he added.

Lacierda made it clear that the demolition order came from the judicial branch of the government particularly the regional trial court and not the executive branch as claimed by some groups.

“There were a number of questions that came out two days ago accusing the government of this demolition. Let me state for the record that the demolition order was issued by the regional trial court. It’s not by the national government,” Lacierda said.

He also said that the case was between the local government of Paranaque and the residents of the compound.

“This is a case between the city government and the residents of the Silverio compound. What was agreed upon in that particular demolition is that the residents’ houses will not be affected, only the 60 structures of the talipapa—the commercial structures. ‘Yung talipapa lang po ang ide-demolish,” Lacierda noted.

One person died while scores were injured as violence erupted during a demolition of a wet market at the Silverio Compound in Paranaque City on Monday.

Reports revealed that the violence was due to the fear of the residents that their houses will also be affected by the demolition in the area.

The compound has about 6,000 homes.

The demolition occurred following the expiration of the 10-day notice of demolition from the local government. (PCOO)

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Aquino is looking for replacement of Lee as ambassador to the People's Republic of China

President Benigno S. Aquino III said that the next ambassador to the People's Republic of China (PROC) must understand the cultural nuances and system of China and must have vast connections with the Chinese people to assist him and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in responding to the critical situation in the Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal).

The Chief Executive announced the criteria in an interview in Malacanang following the request of Domingo Lee, Philippine ambassador to PROC, that his nomination be withdrawn considering the government's efforts to pursue a peaceful settlement of the Panatag Shoal issue.

President Aquino said he may appoint a career diplomat or an outsider as the new nominee for the post of ambassador to China. "Iba kasi ‘yung criteria. Hindi naman basically just career—somebody who understands the nuances of Chinese culture, how their system works, has developed contacts left and right to be able to reach the opinion makers and those whose opinions really matter," he said.

The President is doing his best to be able to choose the right person for the post due to the situation in the West Philippine Sea to avoid future economic blocks to the country's progress.

President Aquino disclosed that Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario has already recommended one person to replace Lee. "Iyung pinakita sa akin, ang impression ko ang bata. Pero very gifted daw, very impressed ang ating Secretary of Foreign Affairs and I’m supposed to be interviewing him. Nagpapahanap pa tayo ng iba. Inutusan natin ang search committee, and other groups to give the nominees," he said. (PCOO)

Aquino says Philippines will maintain presence in Scarborough Shoal

President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Monday that the Philippines will maintain its presence in the Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal).

"The Philippine Coast Guard will maintain its presence. We believe this is our waters, therefore our vessels have the right to be in our waters," the Chief Executive said during an interview in Malacanang on Monday.

The Chief Executive said Vice Admiral Edmund Tan, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) commandant, reported to him that so far there was no untoward incident in the Panatag Shoal. "Ang report ng Coast Guard commandant ay wala naman issue so far. Wala namang untoward incident," he said.

President Aquino even showed a map to the media to highlight his point that the Panatag Shoal is indeed under the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines.

As to the military exercise between China and Russia, the President said he believed that it has no bearing in the Panatag Shoal issue.

The Aquino administration remains committed to the ongoing consultations with the People's Republic of China (PROC) toward a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the Philippine's Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) situation.

President Aquino expressed hope that the dispute will be settled through peaceful, diplomatic and legal means.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Bajo de Masinloc is an integral part of the Philippine territory and part of the Municipality of Masinloc, Province of Zambales. It is located 124 nautical miles west of Zambales and is within the 200 nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zone and the Philippine Continental Shelf. (PCOO)

Aquino says K to 12 basic education program improves learning experience of students

President Benigno S. Aquino III formally launched the Department of Education’s Kindergarten to Year 12 (K to 12) basic education program in ceremonies held in Malacañang on Tuesday.

In his speech keynoting the event, the President said that this day marks a historical occasion where Filipino students are provided an opportunity to learn and absorb lessons learned in school better.

“Simula sa araw na ito, mabibigyan na natin ang kabataan ng mas magandang pagkakataon upang matuto at makasagap ng kaalaman,” the President said.

“Nagtitipon po tayo upang ilunsad ang isang programang magbabago sa sistema ng edukasyon ng bansa, ang K to 12 Basic Education program,” he added.

The central feature of the K to 12 Program is the upgrading of the basic education curriculum to ensure that learners acquire the relevant knowledge and skills they will need to become productive members of society. It seeks to introduce relevant skills development courses and special interest subjects that will suit the personality, strengths and career direction of students.

The President said that with its formal launch, the K to 12 education program will give students a solid education background which they can use to improve their lives.

“Upang mailabas ang natatanging husay ng mag-aaral, bibigyan natin ng sapat na panahong matutuhan ng mga kabataan ang mga konsepto at kakayahan, ang mga tamang kilos at kaugalian,” the President said.

“Ang gusto natin, magkaroon ng matibay na pondasyon sa edukasyon ang mga susunod na henerasyon ng mga Pilipino,” he added.

He underscored the importance of this education program which he called an “investment” to our most valuable asset: the Filipino people.

“Naninindigan pa rin tayo sa ipinangako nating pagbabago sa edukasyon; ang gawin itong sentral na estratehiya sa pamumuhunan sa pinakamahalaga nating yaman -- ang mamamayang Pilipino,” the President said.

“Sa K to 12 tiwala tayo na mabibigyan ng lakas si Juan dela Cruz na mapaunlad di lang ang kanyang sarili at pamilya kundi maging ang buong bansa,” he added.

“Sa araw na ito, humahakbang tayo pasulong sa pagkakamit ng pagbabago sa ating sistemang pang-edukasyon,” the President said. (PCOO)

Monday, 23 April 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, April 23, 2012

Aquino declares May 2 as special non-working day in Bauan, Batangas in celebration of 'Sublian Festival'

President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared May 2, which falls on a Wednesday as a special (non-working) day in the municipality of Bauan in Batangas in celebration of its Sublian Festival.

The Chief Executive issued the declaration through Proclamation No. 369 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on April 19, to give the people of Bauan the full opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occasion with fitting ceremonies.

The Sublian Festival is a yearly festive ceremony commemorating the founding of the holy cross in Bauan, a town in Batangas. The festival aims to revive the centuries-old tradition of dancing the Subli, an indigenous dance of Bauan. (PCOO)

Aquino calls for fair and balanced reporting from media practitioners

President Benigno S. Aquino III called on media practitioners to internalize and advocate the practice of fair and balanced reporting in their publications in order to achieve our “collective goals and dreams for our nation.

The President made this call in his speech keynoting the 16th National Press forum and Annual Membership Meeting of the Philippine Press Institute held on Monday at the Traders Hotel along Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City.

“Alalahanin po natin, magkatambal ang ating mga tungkulin: Kami, bilang nasa gobyerno, at kayo, bilang tagapaghatid ng katotohanan. Ang pagtupad sa tungkuling natutuhan na po nating hilingin sa gobyerno, ay siya rin sanang pagtupad sa tungkuling puwede nating asahan mula sa lahat— katapatan sa katotohanan, pantay na pagsusuri, at pagtutok sa kung ano ang makabubuti sa taumbayan,” the President said.

“Hindi ko naman po hinihiling na mag-imbento kayo ng kuwentong-kutsero upang pabanguhin ang gobyerno. Pero kung babalansihin po natin, at iisipin na ang bawat salita ay nakakaapekto sa buhay ng kapwa natin Pilipino, tiyak ko po na mas madali nating maaabot ang kolektibo nating mithiin para sa bayan,” he stressed.

The Chief Executive said he believed that if all media practitioners, in their pursuit and honing of their craft, would adhere to the code of professionalism, integrity and credibility, the true sense of democracy would prevail amid the jumble of dissenting voices and opinions.

“Sa inyong pagpupursigi na maabot ang pinakamataas na antas ng propesyunalismo, integridad, at kredibilidad sa larangan ng pamamahayag, naniniwala akong maiaangat ang uri ng ating demokrasya kung sa gitna ng nagtutunggaling boses at opinyon, may mahubog tayong isang Pilipinas na may mas matibay na lipunan, mas nagkakaisang tinig, at mas positibong sambayanan,” the President said. (PCOO)

Aquino receives three Filipino pugilists in Malacañang

President Benigno S. Aquino III received three Filipino boxers who have brought honor and glory to the country, carving their names in the world’s roster of best sluggers.
Filipino boxers Donnie “Ahas” Nietes, Johnriel “Quadro Alas” Casimero and Sonnyboy Jaro paid a courtesy call on President Aquino at the Music Room of the Malacanang Palace on Monday.

The fighters were accompanied by Games and Amusement Board (GAB) chairman Juan Ramon Guanzon and their respective promoters/managers Edmund Villamor (Nietes), Samson Gello-Ani (Casimero) and Aljoe Jaro (Jaro).

The World Boxing Organization (WBO) Light Flyweight World Champion Nietes was also a former WBO Minimumweight World Champion.

Prior to his boxing career, the minimumweight Nietes worked as a utility man at the Antonio Lopez Aldeguer boxing gym. In 2003, He became a professional boxer and a national champion after a year. He has fought 33 fights registering 29 wins (16 by knockout), 1 loss and 3 draws.

The 22-year-old native of Ormoc, Leyte Casimero was once the interim WBO Light Flyweight Champion. A year after turning professional in August of 2008, Casimero won over Rodel Quilaton for the then vacant Philippines Boxing Federeration Flyweight title.

Following the bout, Casimero moved down one division, to light flyweight, defeating Liempetch Sor Veerapol of Thailand by technical knockout to claim the then vacant WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight title.

He successfully defended that title two bouts later against Ardin Diale, until he got the biggest break of his career.

In February of this year, Casimero won the International Boxing Federation Interim Light Flyweight title against Argentinian boxer Luis Lazarte via TKO in Mar del Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Casimero’s boxing record stands at 14 wins (10 knockouts), 2 losses and 0 draw.

The WBC Flyweight World Champion Jaro was a former shoemaker before turning professional boxer in September, 2001. (PCOO)

Aquino to formally launch K+12 Basic Education program in Malacañang Tuesday

President Benigno S. Aquino III will formally launch the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Kindergarten to Year 12 (K to 12) program in ceremonies to be held in Malacañang on Tuesday (April 24).

With its launch, the enhanced K+12 Basic Education program will be implemented in all public elementary and secondary schools nationwide starting school year 2012-2013 when classes open this June.

The central feature of the K+12 Program is the upgrading of the basic education curriculum to ensure that learners acquire the relevant knowledge and skills they will need to become productive members of society. It seeks to introduce relevant skills development courses and special interest subjects that will suit the personality, strengths and career direction of each learner.

Education Secretary Brother Armin A. Luistro FSC said the event is another step towards achieving the President’s ten-point basic education reform agenda he laid out when he assumed his presidency.

Luistro said the formal launch is a milestone in the commitment of the government to upgrade the basic education in the country and offer better employment opportunities for the graduates of the education reform program.

In designing the new curriculum, the K+12 Task Force considered not just local experiences and best practices but also insights from Southeast Asian neigbors. “What we have is a curriculum proudly made for Filipinos by Filipinos, and one that would enable any Filipino to compete with the best of the world,” Luistro explained.

“While we are proud of the work we have done with the curriculum, this is by no means a perfect document,” Luistro said. “We will closely monitor its implementation, and funnel learning and insights to the development and roll-out of the succeeding grade levels. The new basic education curriculum and the broader K+12 Program should only get better with time.”

Related to this, DepEd is also retooling its teachers to give them the necessary preparation for the successful implementation of the new curriculum. “Summer training program for Grades 1 and 7 teachers began last week and will commence nationwide in May to cover more than 140,000 teachers in the public school system,” Luistro said.

He added that DepEd is also working with various private school associations to broaden the reach of the training program and serve their teachers too. (PCOO)

PIA News Dispatch - Sunday, April 22, 2012

Aquino urges Filipinos to unite and work together in preserving country's natural wonders

President Benigno S. Aquino III called on the Filipino people to continue working together in caring and preserving the country’s natural wonders to ensure environmental sustainability that will buttress the government’s efforts towards economic progress and development.

In his speech during the official inauguration of the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) as one of the world’s New Seven Wonders of Nature (N7WN) at the One Esplanade Open Grounds in Pasay City on Friday night, President Aquino issued the call stressing the people’s responsibility in the preservation of the environment to make sure that the country’s world-class tourist spots retain their natural splendor.

“This honor reminds us of how truly blessed our country is and of how it is our task as Filipinos not to take these blessings for granted. We have to act as responsible stewards and this means valuing our natural resources and ensuring the environmental sustainability of all our development efforts,” the President said.

“Let us remember, tourism, however, must be nurtured and sustained, and the best way to do that is to take care of sites like the Underground River—not in words but most importantly in deeds… let us protect it, preserve it and make sure that it retains the natural wonder, the same goes for all our other natural treasures,” he added.

The Chief Executive also noted the cooperation and unity of the Filipino people which landed the PPUR as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature making it through a stiff global competition.

“Today it gives me hope not only for the success of our future tourism efforts but also for our continued success along the straight and righteous path,” the President said.

“If we put in the kind of work that brought us to this day, if government and the private sector continue working together, if we take pride in our country and continue fulfilling our individual roles no matter how big or small, then we can be sure that our successes will not stop here. Our country will continue to stand strong and progressive guided by the broad light of day,” he noted.

President Aquino thanked everyone for the collective efforts which made the PPUR not only one of the country’s pride but also the pride of the world.

“I thank everyone who participated in this effort—from those who led the campaign, and most especially those who joined us in sending their text and internet votes. The Puerto Princesa Underground River is the pride of Palawan... now it is the pride of the world because it has officially been named one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature,” he said.

“I’m especially proud to be here because this is, after all, a collective success in the face of tremendous competition. When we got to the finalists’ round, there were 27 other finalists and millions of other voters from all over the world. We pulled together and once again put the Philippines on the map,” he noted.

President Aquino received the award (plaque) from New7Wonders president and founder Bernard Weber signaling the official inauguration of the PPUR as one of the World’s Seven Wonders of Nature.

Present to witness the event were Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr. and Puerto Princesa Palawan Mayor Edward Hagedorn.

The Puerto Princesa Underground River is located some 50 kilometers north of the city of Puerto Princesa in Palawan. It consists of a limestone karst mountain landscape, several large chambers containing significant formations of stalactites and stalagmites, and an 8.2 km navigable underground river that winds through a cave before flowing directly into the West Philippine Sea. At the exit, a flawless lagoon is framed by ancient trees growing right to the water’s edge.

The other six included in the N7WN are Amazon River (South Africa), Halong Bay (Vietnam), Iguazo Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Jeju Island (South Korea), Komodo National Park (Indonesia) and Table Mountain (South Africa). (PCOO)

Aquino calls on local and foreign tourists to visit country's natural wonders/eco-tourism destinations

President Benigno S. Aquino III said that the government has identified several new eco-tourism destinations in the country apart from those which are already existing as he encouraged local and foreign tourists to visit and personally experience the world-class tourist spots in the Philippines that serve as the pride of the Filipino people.

In his message during the official inauguration of the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) as one of the world’s New Seven Wonders of Nature (N7WN) at the One Esplanade Open Grounds in Pasay City on Friday night, President Aquino bared that the various concerned agencies of the government has been focused in promoting the country’s existing and newly-identified tourist spots that may provide more economic opportunities for the people.

“I am happy to tell you that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Tourism are working together to market even more natural wonders in our country as eco-tourism destinations. I understand that 78 of them have been identified in addition to those that we already have,” the President stressed.

The Chief Executive noted the potential contribution of the tourism industry in providing more employment opportunities.

“While they may not have the acclaim and titles that the Puerto Princesa Underground River has garnered, I can guarantee you that they will be equally representative of the beauty and the diversity of our country and they will undoubtedly boost our tourism industry as well," the President said, adding that tourism creates opportunities for our countrymen and has an immediate palpable effect on our economy.

"I am told that for each tourist that sets foot on our shores, one new job is created. Each tourist will have travel agents fixing the itineraries, tour guides who will show them around and merchants who will hopefully be able to sell them our locally made delicacies and handicrafts and a lot of others who are at the service industry,” President Aquino said.

The President also shared with the people his personal experiences in visiting the PPUR and the amazing sight of the naturally-carved formations within the navigable river.

“Not long ago, I had a chance to explore the Puerto Princesa Underground River myself. It was an amazing experience. Journeying down a river that winds through a subterranean cave system is like traveling back in time with walls and caverns that have been shaped by the elements and extraordinary formations of stalactites and stalagmites,” the President said.

“The Underground River is a true example of the artistry of nature when it is preserved and cared for by man. The river has also helped us understand our Earth a little more. Words alone cannot do justice to the Underground River, he noted.

According to the President, one must experience it firsthand to be able to understand exactly why it is one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. "So please consider this as an open invitation to visit, if not, revisit the Puerto Princesa Undeground River and see for yourselves what millions of people around the world voted for and ultimately realize that, yes, it is indeed more fun in the Philippines,” he said.

Puerto Princesa Underground River is located some 50 kilometers north of the city of Puerto Princesa, in Palawan. It consists of a limestone karst mountain landscape, several large chambers containing significant formations of stalactites and stalagmites, and an 8.2 km navigable underground river that winds through a cave before flowing directly into the West Philippine Sea. At the exit, a flawless lagoon is framed by ancient trees growing right to the water’s edge. (PCOO)