Sunday, 29 July 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Sunday, July 29, 2012

Malacanang confident budget concerns of Commission on Election will be addressed soon

Malacanang expressed confidence that the budget concerns of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) will be addressed by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) soon.

In a press briefing aired over government owned dzRB Radyo ng Bayan, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said that officials from both departments had begun discussions into the budget requirements of the COMELEC which had undergone severe cuts in the proposed 2013 General Appropriations Act.

COMELEC chair Sixto Brillantes warned last week the possibility of next year’s midterm elections reverting back to manual counting after the DBM slashed the Commission’s budget from P24-billion to P8-billion.

“Yes we are confident (that the DBM and Comelec will come to a resolution regarding the budget concerns of the Comelec),” Valte said.

In fact, the budget officers of the DBM and Comelec met last week to start reconciling and addressing the concerns of the Comelec,” she added. (rck)

Government disaster agencies all set for onslaught of tropical storm 'Gener'

Malacañang assured the public that the government and its disaster preparedness agencies are on alert and are ready to respond to any distress that may occur as tropical storm “Gener” (international code name Saola) moves towards extreme Northern Luzon.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte gave the assurance in a press briefing aired over government owned dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Sunday.

She said the concerned agencies such as the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council, the Departments of Public Works and Highways, Interior and Local Government, Social Welfare and Development, and Health are ready to assist any of the affected local government units from the effects of "Gener."

“And, as usual—as is our usual protocol—nakahanda po ‘yung mga regional offices ng national government agencies to help augment the actions of our local government units sakali pong kakailanganin nila,” Valte said.

“…‘yung mga quick response teams po ng DPWH for road clearing, ‘yung DSWD po for evacuation centers and for prepositioned relief goods, DOH also for the prepositioned medicines that may be needed...sana hindi naman kailanganin pero maibibigay naman po lahat ng ‘yan nang agaran sa mga local government units,” she added.

Valte called on the Filipino people to be on the alert and heed the storm warnings issued by the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and other concerned government agencies in order to prevent any untoward incidents from happening.

“Kapag sinabi po ng mga awtoridad na kailangan tayong lumikas, sana po tayo ay makinig para maiwasan naman ang pinsala sa buhay at sa mga properties po natin. Mas mahalaga ang ating kaligtasan kaysa maiwanan, o mabantayan ang bahay natin o kung ano pa man. Mas importante sana makipag-cooperate sa mga awtoridad at maging handa. Maghintay po tayo ng mga babala na galing sa PAGASA,” Valte said.

According to PAGASA, tropical storm "Gener" was last spotted 310 kilometers east of Casiguran, Aurora, moving west northwest at 15 kilometers per hour. It has a maximum sustained winds of 85 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 100 kilometers per hour. (rck)

PIA News Dispatch - Saturday, July 28, 2012

Aquino underscores need for government and media to work together to move country forward

President Benigno S. Aquino III underscored the need for the government, the press and the Filipino citizenry to work together and to "create an environment of positive, progressive discourse between them."

The Chief Executive stressed this need in order to move the country forward as he delivered his message during the 25th anniversary celebration of the Business World on Friday (July 27) at the Marriott Hotel in Pasay City.

"We must veer away from negativity and sensationalism. These must not run the course of our national discussions,” the President said.

“Negativity leads to despair, which leads to apathy, which then perpetuates the vicious cycle. Our people are denied the chance, and the capacity to dream. Hopelessness then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy," he stressed.

The President, however noted that the negative mindset of the media can be changed as exemplified by the reforms his administration has initiated and continuously being implemented.

Changes are possible in the government, the way the present administration improves the economy, creates jobs, and empowers the people, he added.

While the government remains open to constructive criticisms, the President asked the press to make its comments in properly contextualized facts.

“And when these facts show that progress has been made, then you must also tell it like it is. This is media’s responsibility to their viewers, listeners, and readers. If our country is progressing, it can only be because our countrymen—both in and out of government—have worked hard at it,” he further said.

There are good news happening in the country that the media can report, the President said adding that these include the developments he spelled out in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 23 before the Joint Session of the 15th Congress at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.

He cited as examples the country’s surprisingly high gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the first quarter of 2012 which is at 6.4 percent, and the 62.2 percent increase in infrastructure spending in the first quarter of the year that directly created jobs for construction workers.

"There is the newfound vitality in the country’s manufacturing sector: production of apparel increased by 52.2 percent, while furniture production increased by 86.6 percent in the same period," the President said.

According to the Chief Executive, the press should also look at the crimes being solved and not at crime rates as he noted that the government is doing everything to address the problem.

“Truly, if we go by the facts, we are seeing that the Philippines—as one observer has said—is no longer a joke. I am not saying that media should be there to praise the government all the time. But the news shouldn’t be about competing with other outfits on who can sell the most negative headlines; it shouldn’t just be about attracting more and more readers in the short term,” he concluded. (as/12:19pm)

Malacanang says Department of Energy to ensure enough supply of cooking gas in the market; investigation on reported shortage of liquefied petroleum gas is underway

Malacanang said Saturday that the Department of Energy (DOE) will make sure that there is enough supply of cooking gas in the country saying the DOE is already addressing the reported shortage of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
The Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers Association (LPGMA) confirmed this week that there was a shortage, due to efforts by some suppliers to hold on to their inventory until there are price adjustments.

“Sa aking pagkakaalala sumagot din ang Department of Energy dito and they are working not just with the marketers association but with all the other stakeholders involved to ensure na wala namang ganyang magiging sitwasyon,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview over government-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday.

Also this week, Energy Secretary Jose Rene D. Almendras made assurances that there is an adequate supply of LPG in the market as he belied the reported shortage made by some market players.

Almendras also mentioned that the perceived shortage was merely due to the “overdrawing” by the small players.

In this connection, the DOE chief said that a DOE team was formed to investigate the matter.

Almendras pointed out that the problem isn’t the supply but the refilling stations wanting to buy as much as they could because of an announcement about a price increase next month.

While there is a reported delayed shipment of LPG for small players, Almendras noted that the supply from the big players was stable. The DOE will also investigate the delayed LPG shipment, he said. (as/2:12pm)

Malacanang extends full support to Filipino athletes competing in 2012 Summer Olympics in London

Malacanang expressed full support to Filipino athletes competing in various sports disciplines in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

In an interview over government-run radio station DzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte expressed the Aquino government’s support to the eleven Filipino athletes who are competing in nine different sporting events at the 2012 London Olympics from July 27 to August 12.

“Buo po ang ating suporta sa inyo (Filipino athletes). Umaasa po tayong magiging maganda ang inyong performance sa Olympics, diyan po sa palakasang ‘yan. At talagang marami pong nanonood at marami ang sumusubaybay, at sana po maging maganda talaga ang performance ng ating mga atleta,” Valte said.

Team Philippines participating in the 2012 Olympics are Hidilyn Diaz (weightlifting, women’s 58 kg), Jasmine Alkhaldi (swimming, women’s 100 m freestyle, Jessie Lacuna (swimming, men’s 200m freestyle), Brian Rosario (shooting, Skeet), Tomohiko Hoshina (judo, men's +100kg), Daniel Caluag (cycling, men's BMX), Mark Barriga (men’s boxing, light flyweight), Marestella Torres (athletics, women’s long jump), Rene Herrera (athletics, men’s 3000m steeplechase), Rachelle Anne Cabral (archery, women's individual) and Mark Javier (archery, men's individual).

The flagbearer for the Philippine delegation during the opening ceremony was 21-year old weightlifter Diaz from Zamboanga City, who is participating in her second Olympic Games.

The Philippine contingent for the Olympiad was the smallest delegation in the history of the country’s participation in the quadrennial sporting event since 1932.

The Olympic Games is considered as a major international event and the world’s foremost sports competition that features summer and winter sports where thousands of athletes from more than 200 countries participate in various disciplines.

The Games are currently held biennially, with Summer and Winter Olympic Games alternating, meaning they occur every four years within their respective seasonal games. (jcl/2:40 p.m.)

Malacanang says Aquino government through its concerned agencies is exerting efforts to ensure employment for Filipinos by maximizing their skills following their graduation

Malacang said that the Aquino government, through its various concerned agencies, is exerting all the necessary efforts to ensure employment for Filipinos by maximizing their skills right after their school graduation.

In an interview over government-run radio station DzRB Radyo ng Bayan, Saturday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said that upon the orders of President Benigno S. Aquino III, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), National Statistics Office (NSO) and the Commission on Higher Education, among others, are closely coordinating to study and figure out the most in demand fields of interest and advice the incoming freshmen students on the top choices of courses to study.

In this way, Valte said, the government could ensure that there will be no oversupply of technical practitioners in the coming years.

“Kung naaalala niyo po, inatasan ng Pangulong Aquino ang DOLE, TESDA, NSO, at CHED, para magsama-sama at i-figure out po para makapagbigay po tayo ng advice doon sa mga papasok po ng kolehiyo na ‘yung advice po na ito po ‘yung kursong maganda niyo pong kunin dahil pagkatapos niyong grumadweyt meron pang merkado para doon sa skills na matututunan niyo diyan. Kasi kung nakita niyo ho ‘yung nangyari sa atin dati parang maraming pong nahilig sa nursing, marami pong pumasok diyan, ngayon nagkaroon, meron po tayong ano, oversupply. Ito na po ‘yung gusto nating iwasan,” Valte said.

“In line with the President’s instruction, these agencies have already begun sharing information among each other. May convergence na sila. And this is… katulad nang pag-abiso ng Department of Labor, ito na 'yung isa sa mga bunga po niyan. So kung sinabi ng Department of Labor na mag-shift tayo sa ganito that means nakita na nila sa mga projections nila na by the time these students graduate mas malaki ang kanilang pagkakataon na makakuha ng trabaho sa kursong ‘yun,” she said. (jcl/3:00 p.m.)

PIA News Dispatch - Friday, July 27, 2012

Malacanang strongly condemns recent violence in Mindanao that left 12 soldiers dead and scores wounded; President Aquino orders Defense Secretary to go to Basilan and attend to needs of soldiers in the field

Malacanang strongly condemned the recent violence that ensued from a day-long clash between government troops and a secessionist group, al-qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), in Mindanao that left 12 army soldiers dead and scores wounded. Government assured that follow up operations are being conducted to run after the bandits.

In a regular press briefing in Malacanang on Friday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said that President Benigno S. Aquino III has already directed Defense Secretary Volatire Gazmin to assess the situation in Basilan and attend to the needs of the soldiers in the field.

Valte added that government assistance are on the way especially for the families of the Philippine Army soldiers that perished during the gun battle.

“First, we salute our fallen for their bravery… it is a reality for those of us in government that when things like this happen mabigat po sa atin iyan. Of course, we comdemn the attack. Secondly, assistance is already on the way to the families of the fallen," she said.

According to Valte, the President has directed the Secretary of National Defense to go to Basilan and "to make sure that things on the ground, that assistance is being given."

“We have been assured by the Secretary of National Defense that pursuit operations will continue against the attackers,” she added.

When asked on the possible effects of the encounter to the morale of the government troops, Valte said that they are not expecting the incident to affect the confidence of the soldiers in any way.

“Yes, naiintindihan natin na realidad po iyan sa buhay ng isang sundalo…tinatanggap natin na mabigat po pag ganito ang nangyayari but yet we laud them kasi kahit nagkakaroon po ng mga ganitong insidente, patuloy pa rin po ang ating kasundaluhan sa pagbabantay nila sa seguridad ng ating bansa,” Valte noted.

Recent reports revealed that clashes between the Philippine Army soldiers and the Abu Sayyaf Group started early Thursday when the government troops attacked an ASG encampment in Sumisip, Basilan. The encounter was considered as one of the bloodiest in recent weeks in the country’s southern island.

The military said that four bandits were killed during the volley of fire. Officials added that the militants belonged to the same group that ambushed rubber plantation workers in the same area two weeks ago. (jcl)

Palace greets Iglesia ni Cristo on it's 98th anniversary

Malacanang extended its greetings to the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) which is marking its 98th anniversary today, July 27.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte extended the greetings during the regular press briefing on Friday in Malacanang.

July 27 is “Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) Day,” a special national working holiday, pursuant to Republic Act 9645, which was signed on June 12, 2009.

The law recognizes “the exemplary feat of INC in leading its members towards spiritual enlightenment and good citizenry.”

INC’s activities for its 98th Anniversary were designed to prepare millions of its followers for its centennial celebration in 2014.

Established by “Ka” (Brother) Felix Y. Manalo in Sta. Ana, Manila, on July 14, 1914, INC has grown to become one of the country’s biggest religious denominations.

The church has millions of members in its more than 5,400 congregations in the Philippines and in 90 countries worldwide.

Aside from organizing local and foreign congregations that started way back in 1916, INC also put up the Ministerial Institute of Development (now New Era University) in 1974.

When Ka Felix Manalo passed away on April 12, 1963, his post was taken over by his son, Ka Eraño G. Manalo. Upon Ka Eraño’s demise on August 31, 2009, his eldest son, Bro. Eduardo “Ka Ed” V. Manalo succeeded him to become INC’s current Executive Minister. (as/2:23pm)

Aquino appoints new officials of Commission on Higher Education and Department of Labor and Employment

President Benigno S. Aquino III has appointed officials in the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte announced during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Friday that the Chief Executive signed the appointment letter of Maria Cynthia Rose B. Bautista as Commissioner of the Commission on Higher Education. Her term of office will expire on July 21, 2016.

Bautista is a sociologist and professor of sociology at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.

She served as member of the Honorary Degree Sub-Comittee, Ateneo de Manila University (February 2010-May 2012); chairperson of the Task Force on Quality Assurance of the CHED (2010-2011); member of the Advisory Board of the Institute of Philippine Culture, Ateneo de Manila University (June 2009-2011); vice chair person of the Technical Working Group for Autonomous and Deregulated Higher Education Institutions, CHED (2006-2008) and co-chair of the Technical Panel for the Humanities, Social Sciences and Communications of the CHED (2002-2005).

Bautista graduated Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from U.P. in 1974 and earned her Master of Science in Sociology and Doctor in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Valte said President Aquino also signed the appointment of Alexander E. Asuncion as member of the Governing Board representing the Land-Based Sector, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, of DOLE for a term of three years. He replaced Leonardo B. de Ocampo.

Prior to his appointment to the Labor Department, Asuncion served as creative director and owner of the Astralvision Digital Artworks.

He graduated Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of the East in 1975. (js)

Aquino confirms declaration of the late Fernando Poe Jr. as National Artist for Films (Posthumous) in 2006

President Benigno S. Aquino III has confirmed the declaration of Ronald Allan Kelley Poe, popularly known by his screen name as Fernando Poe Jr. as National Artist (Posthumous) for 2006.

On July 20, 2012, President Aquino signed Proclamation No. 435 confirming the declaration of Poe as National Artist for Films (Posthumous) as conferred in Proclamation No. 1069, dated May 23, 2006.

“Pursuant to the authority vested in me by law, I, Benigno Aquino III, President of the Philippines, do hereby confirm the declaration of Ronald Allan K. Poe a.k.a. Fernando Poe Jr. (Posthumous) as National Artist for Films as conferred in Proclamation No. 1069, dated May 23, 2006,” the proclamation read.

Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed Presidential Proclamation 1069 which named Poe and five others as national artists. The five other artists were Bienvenido Lumbera for Literature, Ramon Obusan for Dance, Benedicto Cabrera for Visual Arts, Ildefonso Santos for Architecture and the late Ramon Valera for Fashion Design.

In November of 2010, FPJ’s family expressed willingness to accept the National Artist award under the Aquino administration following their rejection during the term of former president Macapagal-Arroyo and now Pampanga District II Representative.

Popularly known as “FPJ” and “Da King”, Poe was born on August 20, 1939 in Manila. He was married to actress Susan Roces (born as Jesusa Sonora) in December 1968 in a civil wedding. They were later married in a church. The couple adopted their only daughter, current Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) chairman Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares.

The king of Philippine cinema died in December 2004 due to a massive stroke. (jcl/2:30 p.m.)

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, July 26, 2012

President Aquino leads commemoration of the 114th Founding Anniversary of the Department of Foreign Affairs

President Benigno S. Aquino III joined officials and employees of the Department of Foreign Affairs in commemorating the 114th Founding Anniversary of the agency held at its main headquarters in Pasay City on Thursday.

The celebration coincided with the 148th birth anniversary of Apolinario Mabini, the first Secretary of Foreign Affairs under the Administration of former President Emilio Aguinaldo.

To properly honor Mabini, the President led the awarding ceremonies for the Gawad Mabini, which is conferred upon personnel of the DFA and Filipinos who have steadfastly rendered distinguished service and have promoted the interests of the Republic of the Philippines at home and overseas.

The Gawad Mabini, which is divided into three categories: Rank of Dakilang Kamanong (Grand Cross), Rank of Dakilang Kasugo (Commander) and Rank of Kasugo (Member), was conferred to 18 personnel of the DFA this year.

Those accorded the Rank of Dakilang Kamanong are: Marlyn Alarilla-Ambassador to Turkey; Rodolfo Arizala-Former Ambassador (retired); Claro Cristobal-Amb. to Egypt; Laura del Rosario-Undersecretary for International and Economic Relations;

Linglingay Lacancale, former Ambassador to Thailand, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, and Slovakia, and Consul General to New York; Jaime Victor Ledda-Assistant Secretary, Office of Consular Affairs; Ma. Cleofe Natividad-Amb. to Germany; Cristina Ortega-Amb. to France; and Renato Villapando-Consul General to Macau.

Those awarded the Rank of Dakilang Kasugo are: Elmer Cato-Special Assistant, Office of the Undersecretary for Administration; Andre Peter Estanislao-Acting Director, Office of Consular Affairs-Passport Division; Marlowe Miranda-First Secretary and Consul General, Philippine Embassy, Baghdad, Iraq; and Roussel Reyes-Second Secretary and Consul, Philippine Embassy, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The recipients of the Rank of Kasugo are: Edwin Juan Battallones-Consular Assistant, Philippine Embassy, Beirut, Lebanon; Amerah Dianalan-Tahir-Consular Assistant, Philippine Consulate General, Dubai, UAE; Yolanda Ofiana-Administrative Officer and Attache, Philippine Embassy, Hanoi, Vietnam; Arturo Romua-Officer-in-Charge, Regional Consular Office, Pampanga; and Ebrahim Zailon-Assitant/Translator, Philppine Embassy, Riyadh, UAE.

In his speech, the President thanked the awardees and the DFA for emulating Mabini whose good governance, advocacy for freedom and pride for the Philippines has been the backbone of every Filipino’s dream for greatness.

“Mabuting pamamahala, pananagutan sa tinatamasang kalayaan, at pagpapahayag sa mundo na isa tayong ganap at malayang estado. Ito ang mga prinsipyong itinaguyod ni Mabini nang italaga siya ni Pangulong Aguinaldo bilang kauna-unahang Kalihim ng Ugnayang Panlabas. At ganitong antas ng pamumuno ang nais nating maisabuhay ng mga kasalukuyang kawani ng Department of Foreign Affairs,” the President said.

“Kaya naman kinikilala natin sa araw na ito ang mga katangi-tanging embahador, kawani ng DFA, at mga Pilipinong nag-ambag nang malaki sa pagsusulong ng interes ng bansa saan mang panig sila ng daigdig naroon,” he added.

“Congratulations po sa ating awardees sa taong ito; maraming salamat sa malaki ninyong kontribusyon sa pagtataguyod ng pambansang seguridad, pagsusulong ng diplomasyang pang-ekonomiko at sa pangangalaga sa kapakanan ng ating mga kababayan sa ibayong dagat,” the President said.

The DFA was established on June 23, 1898 under President Emilio Aguinaldo;s administration. The DFA Foundation Day is traditionally celebrated every 23rd of June, following Presidential Proclamation No. 1717 dated February 24, 1978. However, to ensure that more officials and employees join the founding anniversary celebration, the DFA Day is celebrated on July 26 this year. (rck)

Aquino orders Abad and Brillantes to go over the budgetary requirements of COMELEC

President Benigno S. Aquino III has directed Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Commission on Elections chairman Sixto Brillantes to discuss further the budgetary requirements of the COMELEC to ensure that next year’s midterm elections push through without a hitch.

In a press conference after spearheading the celebration of the 114th Founding Anniversary of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pasay City on Thursday, the President said the howl raised by Brillantes over budget cuts the Comelec would go through in the 2013 General Appropriations Act could be settled by holding discussions with Abad.

“Palagay ko kailangan nating pag-usapin muli ang ating kalihim ng Budget and Management at si chairman Brillantes para magkatugma ‘yung ating mga pangangailangan at ‘yung pantustos doon sa pangangailangan na ‘yan,” the President said.

“Mukhang kulang ng konting diyalogo. E ako naman e, sanay naman akong nagre-referee, e kakausapin natin ‘yung dalawa,” he added.

The President pointed out that as long as the COMELEC can justify the need for additional funds, the State will do everything in its power to provide for its need.

“…obligasyon natin na magkaroon ng mapayapa at credible na election sa susunod na taon. Bigyan natin ng tamang kasangkapan ang mga nangangailangan,” the President said.

“Kung maide-demonstrate na meron talagang deficiency, obligasyon nating maghanap ng pampuno nito,” he added. (rck)

Aquino thanks DFA for efforts to uphold Philippine sovereignty

President Benigno S. Aquino III expressed his appreciation to the Department of Foreign Affairs for its continued efforts to uphold Philippine sovereignty in dealing with claimants to the contested areas in the West Philippine Sea.

In his speech keynoting the 114th Founding Anniversary of the DFA in Pasay City on Thursday, the President said that the DFA’s push for a Code of Conduct in the disputed area is in line with his directive to reach a resolution on the issue diplomatically.

“Nagpapasalamat po tayo sa walang humpay na pagsisikap ng DFA sa pagtataguyod ng code of conduct upang pangalagaan ang ating karapatan sa West Philippine Sea, na kasalukuyang dahilan ng banggaan ng mga bansang umaangkin sa teritoryong saklaw nito,” the President said.

He reiterated the government’s stance that although there should be discussions on who can lay claim to certain parts of the West Philippine Sea, the proximity of other parts to the Philippines should mean it belongs to us and should be left out of any discussions.

“Malinaw po ang ating paninindigan: May mga teritoryo pong kailangang pag-usapan at pagpasyahan ang pagmamay-ari, at may mga lugar na hindi na dapat kuwestyunin dahil malinaw na teritoryo po natin ito. Sa lahat ng pagkakataon, bukas tayo sa mapayapang paglutas sa usaping ito nang naaayon sa batas at kasunduan ng mga bansa,” the President said.

“Isusulong natin ang mga adhikaing ito habang sinisiguro ang maayos na pakikipag-ugnayan sa ating mga karatig bansa. Iginagalang natin ang karapatan ng ibang mga bansang kasalo natin sa nag-iisang mundo sa panahong sibilisado,” he added. (rck)

Aquino declares August 11 as special non-working day in Samar in celebration of its Foundation Day

President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared August 11, which falls on a Saturday, as a special (non-working) day in the province of Samar in celebration of its Foundation Day.

The Chief Executive issued the declaration through Proclamation No. 427 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on July 10, 2012 to give the people of Samar the full opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occasion with appropriate ceremonies.

On August 11, 1841, Queen Isabela II of Spain declared Samar a province. The province celebrates Kaadlawan han Samar on August 11 of every year to mark its Foundation Day. (js)

PIA News Dispatch - Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Comelec has ample savings to proceed with automated elections, Palace says

Malacañang maintained on Wednesday that the Commission on Elections has enough resources to proceed with automated elections in 2013.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the election-governing body can tap into its vast savings to augment its regular budget and hold the automated counting of election returns in next year’s midterm elections.

“I think Comelec should look into their savings. I think they have substantial savings in their budget,” Lacierda said.

He added that during his discussion with Budget Secretary Florencio Abad on the issue recently, the Budget Chief informed him that Comelec had ample savings.

“They have enough savings. That should not be a problem. The automated elections (in 2013) will continue,” Lacierda said.

Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes raised a howl over the drastic cut in budget allocation the Commission may receive in the 2013 General Appropriations Act that was slashed from P24-billion to P8-billion.

Brillantes warned that with this cut, the Comelec may have to revert to manually counting ballots in next year’s elections. (rck)

Ochoa: We need stronger laws to defeat terrorism

The Aquino Administration wants Congress to amend the Human Security Act of 2007 to further strengthen government efforts in fighting and defeating terrorism.

Speaking to participants of the 7th ASEAN-Japan Counter-Terrorism Dialogue in Cebu City on Wednesday, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said a proposed bill seeking changes to the anti-terror law is one of the key measures the Executive Branch has asked lawmakers to prioritize, as part of its global commitment to counter terrorism.

“The goal of these amendments is to strengthen the law so that it can be used as a tool by law enforcement agencies to thwart terrorism,” the Executive Secretary said.

While the capability of terror organizations has waned and the number of militants has decreased, the world must keep its vigilance because the threats of terrorism remain and are very real, Ochoa said.

As part of the Administration’s ongoing contribution to the global response to these threats, the Executive Secretary told participants that President Benigno S. Aquino III has signed last week two laws – An Act to Further Strengthen the Anti-Money Law and the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 – to boost domestic capability in identifying and preventing financial transactions related to illegal activities and those that undermine global security.

To complement these initiatives, he said, the government has put in place a three-pronged strategy to combat terrorism within the Philippine borders which is aligned with the frameworks adopted in other countries. These steps are:

--Effective law enforcement by strengthening the regulatory regimes for firearms and explosives and financing terrorism, and the arrest and neutralization of the human tools or perpetrators behind terrorist acts;

--Stronger institutional mechanisms and enhanced capabilities of law enforcement agencies and security agencies, and active participation in international cooperation against terrorism; and

--De-radicalization or counter-radicalization of the intent to commit terror acts by addressing poverty and poor education, which are considered roots of the problem.

“In these initiatives, you are guaranteed of the support of our President who recognizes the importance of addressing the threat of terrorism and is aware that a holistic approach to the problem will produce positive results,” Ochoa said.

At the same time, the Executive Secretary lauded Japan and ASEAN member-states for taking the lead in organizing the dialogue on counter-terrorism to put forward the implementation of joint projects in transport security, border control and immigration, maritime security, public involvement in countering terrorism, and capacity building on legal affairs.

“Without a doubt, all of the nation-states here possess the political will to defeat terrorism; all of us want to secure borders and ensure the safety of our people,” Ochoa said.

“What is necessary is improved counter terrorism capacity, and this is where efforts like this dialogue is crucial.”

Malacanang sees no armed conflict in West Philippine Sea

Despite the escalating tensions between neighboring nations laying claim to the West Philippine Sea, the Philippines remains confident that a resolution to the issue will be settled diplomatically.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told a press briefing in Malacañang on Wednesday that the Philippines hopes to reach a “mutual and diplomatic solution” as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is in the process of drafting a Code of Conduct on the West Philippine Sea.

“China has also voiced preference for a mutual and diplomatic solution so we hope that even while we are drafting the code of conduct, we can exhibit restraint between the two nations and we are going to maintain a peaceful and diplomatic stance towards the resolution of conflicts involving the Panatag Shoal,” Lacierda said.

He added that the Philippines will continue to maintain a policy of “de-escalation” to diffuse tensions in the area.

“We are nowhere on the brink of armed conflict. We have continued to conduct a peaceful discussion with our Chinese counterparts and we have done it through diplomatic means and we will continue to maintain a policy of de-escalation,” Lacierda said. (rck)

Malacanang says granting of bail to former President Macapagal-Arroyo by Regional Trial Court shows independence of the Judicial branch of government

Malacanang expressed full recognition on the jurisdiction of the courts over the various cases filed before them following the granting of a Regional Trial Court (RTC) for former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to post bail adding that such development only shows the independence of the Judicial branch of government.
In a regular press conference in Malacanang on Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda underscored the independence of the courts in the country to decide on cases pending before them.

“We recognize the jurisdiction of the court, it was based on a review by Judge Mupas of the petition. So, as far as we are concerned, we recognize the jurisdiction of Judge Mupas on this case,” Lacierda said.

“The fact na binigyan po ng piyansa ni Judge Mupas, pinapakita po rin dito ang kasarinlan ng judiciary. Ang sinasabi nila hawak na po ng executive branch ang judiciary, nagpapatunay po ito na ginagalang natin ang kasarinlan ng judiciary so that should be settled. That issue that we are going to control the judiciary, obviously that is not true,” he stressed.

According to reports lawyers of the former president and now Pampanga 2nd District Representative Macapagal-Arroyo posted one million cash bond on Wednesday following the decision of Judge Jesus Mupas of Pasay RTC Branch 112 to grant the former president’s motion for bail in connection with her electoral sabotage case.

The former leader has been under hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City since 2011. (jcl/1:40 p.m.)

Malacanang says Aquino will select new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on the basis of constitutional requirements

President Benigno S. Aquino III will select the successor of ousted Chief Justice Renato C. Corona not on the basis of popularity but solely on the constitutional requirements, a Palace official said on Wednesday.
"The President will base his decision on the constitutional requirements as provided by the Charter," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Wednesday.

The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) started the public interviews of candidates vying for the position of Chief Justice on Tuesday at the Supreme Court Division Hearing Room in Manila.

"The President is limited to three (nominees). So he will just have to wait for the three names that will be shortlisted by the Judicial and Bar Council," Lacierda said.

The public interviews of candidates vying for the position of Chief Justice will not influence the President in his decision to choose for the successor of Corona, according to Lacierda.

"So right now the President is not watching the public interviews. So I am certain it will not influence his decision in the event that the three names are submitted. He may choose any means by which to verify the three and that’s normally what he does—that he gets to talk to the three also and to see," Lacierda said.

Only 20 candidates are vying for inclusion in the JBC shortlist of nominees, which will be submitted to the President.

The JBC panel has already interviewed Presidential Commission on Good Government Chair Andres B. Bautista, lawyer Soledad M. Cagampang-De Castro, Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima, De La Salle University Law Dean Jose Manuel I. Diokno, Solicitor General Francis H. Jardeleza, and lawyer Maria Carolina T. Legarda.

Interviewed on Wednesday were Supreme Court Justice Roberto A. Abad, lawyer Rafael A. Morales, former University of the Philippines law dean Raul C. Pangalangan, SC Justice Arturo D. Brion, Commission on Elections Commissioner Rene V. Sarmiento, and retired Judge Manuel DJ. Siayngco, Jr.

Those to be interviewed on Thursday, July 26, are University of the East law dean Amado D. Valdez, Acting Chief Justice Antonio T. Carpio, SC Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro, and former Ateneo law dean Cesar L. Villanueva. Those scheduled on Friday are Securities and Exchange Commission chair Teresita J. Herbosa, former Executive Secretary Ronaldo B. Zamora, SC Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno, and SC Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. (js)

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Aquino says it is not far-fetched for government to reach its goals; nothing is impossible to achieve for a country that is united

President Benigno S. Aquino III said that nothing is impossible to achieve for a country that is united, a people that cares for each other and are supportive to their government that is incessantly pushing for reforms that will result to a better and progressive nation as he bared the Aquino government’s continuous efforts to effect reforms and development in the fields of health, education, economy, agriculture, energy, peace and order, tourism and jobs generation, among others.

In his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) during the Joint Session of the 15th Congress at the Session Hall, House of Representatives Complex, Constitution Hills, Quezon City on Monday, President Aquino said that through sincere and devoted public service and the support from the people, it is not far-fetched that the government will reach its goals in making the country one of the best within the region.

“Heto po ang aking natutuhan sa dalawampu’t limang buwan ng pagka-pinuno: Wala pong imposible… walang imposible dahil kung nakikita ng taumbayan na sila ang tanging boss ng kanilang pamahalaan, bubuhatin ka nila, gagabayan ka nila, sila mismo ang mamumuno tungo sa makabuluhang pagbabago,” the President said.

“Hindi imposible para sa Pilipinas na tumindig at sabihing --- Ang Pilipinas ay para sa Pilipino – at handa kaming ipagtanggol ito… hindi imposible na ang Pilipinong kaytagal nang yumuyuko tuwing may makasasalubong na dayuhan – ang Pilipino ngayon, taas-noo, tinitingala ng buong mundo,” he added.

“Talaga naman pong ang sarap maging Pilipino sa mga panahong ito,” he further noted.

The Chief Executive also expressed thanks to the groups and individuals who tirelessly worked with the government and made sure that its goals are realized.

“Hindi po biro ang mga pagsubok na dinaanan natin, kaya angkop lamang na pasalamatan ang mga taong nakibalikat sa pagkukumpuni sa mga maling idinulot ng masamang pamamahala… sa lahat ng miyembro ng aking gabinete: maraming, maraming salamat,” President Aquino said.

The President also acknowledged the cooperation of the Filipinos saying that all things were made possible with their support.

“Noong nakaraang taon, ang hamon ko sa inyong iwaksi ang kultura ng negatibismo, sa bawat pagkakataon iangat ang kapwa Pilipino… batid po sa tinatamasa natin ngayon --- Hindo kayo nabigo, sa inyo nagmula ang pagbabago,” President Aquino said.

“Humaharap po ako sa inyo bilang mukha ng isang gobyrenong kayo ang boss at kayo pa rin ang lakas. Inuulat ko lamang ang mga pagbabagong ginawa ninyong posible,” he added.

“Inuulit ko po: posible ang dating imposible. Humaharap po ako sa inyo ngayon at sinasabing: hindi ko SONA ito… kayo ang gumawa nito, SONA ito ng sambayanang Pilipino,” the President said. (jcl/10:40 p.m.)

Malacañang assures that government has been providing equal attention to all sectors including Overseas Filipino Workers

Malacanang assured the people that the Aquino government has been providing equal, necessary attention to the needs and development of various sectors of the society, particularly the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), who are one of the major players in sustaining the economic progress of the country.

In a regular press briefing in Malacanang on Tuesday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said that although they were not mentioned in President Aquino’s State Of the Nation Address (SONA), the OFW sector is assured that the government will continue its efforts to attend to their needs and concerns.

“Huwag naman po sanang sumama ang loob… naiintindihan po natin yung ganito because everybody wants to be mentioned in the SONA pero hindi po ibig sabihin na nakalimutan ng Pangulo Aquino. Hindi lang po ang SONA ang pagkakataon ng Pangulo na bigyan ng pagkilala ang ating mga OFW,” Valte said.

“Kayo pong press corps na nagco-cover sa Pangulo alam ninyo na madalas silang nababanggit sa mga talumpati, sa mga interview at hindi po dahil hindi sila nabanggit ay hindi sila binibigyan ng kaukulang pansin,” she added.

On Monday, President Aquino delivered his third SONA during the Joint Regular Session of the 15th Congress where he bared the stringent, reforms being implemented by the administration in efforts to sustain progress and development that uplift the living standards of the Filipino people. (jcl/1:50 p.m.)

Malacañang condoles with the family of former government official and journalist

Malacanang expressed sincere sympathies and condolences to the family of a former government official and newspaper man who was killed by a group of unscrupulous men in Laguna over the weekend as it clarified that the case is an isolated incident and does not reflect the present crime rate in the country.

In a regular press conference in Malacanang on Tuesday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte assured the family of former tourism official and journalist Nixon Kua that the government is monitoring the progress of the case to ensure that justice will be served.

“Nakikiramay po kami doon sa mga kaibigan, mga mahal sa buhay at mga naiwan po ni Ginoong Kua… binabantayan po namin yung progreso ng kanyang kaso, sa akin pong pagkakaalam, kaninang umaga ay mayroon na po silang (PNP) mga suspect… may apat na kalalakihan na kanila pong nasakote na at ipepresenta po yata nila sa media mamaya,” Valte said.

“Binabantayan po natin ang kaso at umaasa po tayong magiging mabilis ang pag-usad ng hustisya para kay Ginoong Kua,” she added.

Valte also said that the government is still focused on efforts to maintain the peace and order within the country and the decrease of crime occurrence in various areas.

Kua, 49, who was a reporter and columnist for The Philippine Star and its sister publication Pang Masa tabloid, was shot in the face on Saturday evening at the height of the heavy downpour.

Prior to the shooting incident, the victim was reportedly with his wife and two children and was parking his car near the house of his brother in Greenfield Subdivision when he was attacked by four armed men. (jcl/2:21 p.m.)

Palace says government remains supportive of the passage of Freedom of Information Bill

Malacanang reiterated that the Aquino administration remains committed to the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill that intends to provide the public easier access to government information.

Issues were raised by some quarters after the President’s State of the Nation Address on Monday saying the Chief Executive appeared to be uninterested in pushing for the passage of the FOI bill because he didn’t mention it in his address to the nation.

But in a press briefing in Malacanang on Tuesday, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that some people have been drawing wrong conclusions about the President’s support for the bill.

“That is a wrong conclusion. We have spoken to Representative Ben Evardone and ang assurance po niya sa amin ay by August ilalabas na daw po sa plenaryo, lalabas na daw sa komite ang FOI,” Valte said.

While the measure is not a priority bill by the Palace, the President remains committed to its passage, Valte said, explaining that the bill wasn’t listed as a priority measure because it wasn’t included in the common legislative agenda of the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).

“If you recall, sumulat si Budget Secretary Florencio Abad sa House Speaker at kay Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile din at in-emphasize niya ang commitment dito. If you also remember, the Palace version that was submitted to the Lower House has also been adopted,” Valte said.

The different provisions of the bill have already been adopted by the principal author, Rep. Erin Tañada, Valte noted. Likewise, Sen. Gringo Honasan, the backer of the bill in the Senate, has also adopted the provisions that were the fruit of the committee hearings on the FOI, the Palace official continued.

In February this year, the Palace forwarded a draft of the FOI bill to the House of Representatives for discussion and enactment.

The Palace version is an improvement over the earlier versions presented to the public in an attempt to make it in line with United Nations standards. The proposal removes the provision creating an Information Commission (IC) in which the Palace said could add another layer of bureaucracy and complicate the release of information to the public.

FOI advocates have been expecting the President to make FOI a priority legislation after the Chief Executive pledged its passage during the 2010 presidential campaign. (as/3:33pm)

Palace welcomes Senate concurrence on Status of Visiting Forces Agreement with Australia

Malacanang hailed the Senate’s concurrence on a defense cooperation agreement between Australia and the Philippines saying the move will further boost national and regional security.

“The Senate with an overwhelming 17-1 vote has taken an important step in enhancing our national and regional security by ratifying the Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA) between Australia and the Philippines,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Long ratified by the Australian parliament, the SOVFA has been pending in the Senate since 2008. We thank the Senate for this historically significant action.”

First proposed in 2004, the SOVFA was signed by Australia on May 31, 2007, and ratified by President Benigno S. Aquino III on December 23, 2010.

The Philippine Senate needs two-third vote to concur on the defense agreement for it to enter into force.

According to a separate statement released by the Foreign Affairs Department, the SOVFA marked another milestone in Philippine-Australian relations.

While the 1995 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperative Defense Activities serves as the framework for bilateral defense and military cooperation, the SOVFA paves the way for enhanced cooperation between the two countries, it said.

These includes capacity-building and training of armed forces, interoperability to undertake humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations, counter-terrorism, border security, and maritime security, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

“Australia has been assisting the Philippines in strengthening its maritime security capability with initiatives such as the Coast Watch South project and the joint Maritime Training Activity LUMBAS. These initiatives are expected to be further expanded and strengthened under the SOVFA,” it further said.

The Philippines and Australia are also set to convene a strategic dialogue to be co-chaired by foreign affairs and defense officials. The bilateral mechanism is expected to complement the SOVFA, DFA added. (as/5:01pm)

Aquino appoints Rojas as new director of National Bureau of Investigation

President Benigno S. Aquino III has appointed Nonnatus Caesar Rojas as the new director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) of the Department of Justice.

Rojas currently serves as officer-in-charge of the NBI. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima named him as NBI’s OIC in January 30 this year after Magtanggol Gatdula was dismissed as NBI director.

Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. informed Secretary de Lima of Rojas’ appointment as new NBI chief through a letter dated July 20, 2012.

Prior to his appointment, Rojas was a regional prosecutor for Region 1.

The newly appointed NBI chief also served as state prosecutor of Region 1 from August 1999 to September of 2002, and prosecutor of Region 1 from March 1991 to August 1999.

A law graduate from San Beda College, Rojas is the son of former NBI deputy director Mariano Rojas. (co)