Sunday, 30 September 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Sunday, September 30, 2012

Malacanang assures that government will continue working despite the onset of the election season

Despite the onset of the election season, MalacaƱang assured on Sunday that the government will not be distracted from its mandate to serve the people and will continue with its job of governing and providing for the needs of the Filipino citizenry.

The assurance was given by Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte who spoke over the government-run radio station dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on the eve of the filing of Certificates of Candidacy that signals the nearing of the election season next year.

“Well, ‘yung sa amin naman po, on the part of the President and of the administration, the work will continue. Whether it’s election season or not, the work will continue,” Valte said.

She said that all candidates will be given the leeway to “to conduct their campaigns in the way that they see fit. But, at least, on the part of the administration, the work still continues.” PND (rck)

President Aquino attends premiere showing of newly-restored 1950 film 'Genghis Khan' by Manuel Conde

President Benigno S. Aquino III attended Saturday evening the formal repatriation and the premiere showing of the newly restored internationally acclaimed Filipino film "Genghis Khan" by Manuel Conde.

The Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), the National Film Archive of the Philippines (NFAP), together with the La Biennale di Venezia led the restoration and repatriation of the movie to the Philippines. The Venice Film Festival is part of La Biennale di Venezia.

The prints of Genghis Khan, filmed in 1950, were turned over to the National Film Archive of the Philippines (NFAP) for the preservation. NFAP, which is under the auspices of FDCP, has been established to collect and conserve audiovisual materials as part of the country’s historical and cultural heritage.

After the formal turn over ceremony, the FDCP, together with its partners held the premiere screening of the newly-restored movie at the SM Mall of Asia’s Cinema One along Roxas Boulevard.

The restoration of Genghis Khan was conducted at the L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna, Italy, a world-class laboratory recognized as one of the best in the field of film retrieval. Among the famous Hollywood personalities and entities that worked with L’Immagine Ritrovata include director and film archiving stalwart Martin Scorsese and the Film Foundation.

Genghis Khan, which was shown in Philippine theaters 60 years ago, had long been considered lost until a copy surfaced recently in the Venice film vaults. After the restoration, the movie was screened during the Archivio Storico delle Arti Contemporanee (ASAC) retrospective of 10 rare restored films in the recent Venice Film Festival.

With the repatriation of Genghis Khan, FDCP chairman Briccio Santos said it could send a strong signal to the international archivists to turn-over Filipino films that remain in their collection.

Aside from FDCP chairman Santos, among those present during the event were Venice Film Festival retrospective curator Stefano Francia di Celle, L’Immagine Ritrovata director Davide Pozzi, NFAP head Benedict Salazar Olgado and the Urbano/Conde family representative Jun Urbano.

Also present were National Artist for Films Eddie Romero and National Artist for Visual Arts Abdulmari Imao.

The low-budget movie was filmed in the mountains of Angono, Rizal. It was about the adventures of the Mongolian leader Genghis Khan prior to his assumption to the throne.

Among those who also worked with Conde in making the film was the Angono painter Carlos “Botong” Francisco, as production designer, who eventually became a National Artist for visual arts in the Philippines.

Manuel Urbano, who used the screen name Manuel Conde, was born in Daet, Camarines Norte on October 15, 1915. During his stint as a producer, actor and director, he made classic films such as the Juan Tamad series (1947), Vende Cristo (1948), Prinsipe Paris (1949), Krus na Kawayan (1956), Siete Infantes de Lara (1950), Molave (1961) and Genghis Khan (1950). PND (as)

PIA News Dispatch - Saturday, September 29, 2012

Aquino swears in Roxas as new DILG head

President Benigno S. Aquino III swore in on Saturday former senator Manuel Roxas II in Malacanang as the new secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) replacing the late Secretary Jesse Robredo who died last August.

The President appointed Roxas to head the DILG to continue the reforms left by Robredo at the department. Robredo died in a plane crash on August 18.

Roxas, the former secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications, was succeeded by another Aquino ally, Rep. Joseph Abaya. Roxas and Abaya were confirmed by the Commission on Appointments last September 19.

In a press conference at the Palace after his oath taking, Roxas said his initial move is to submit his leave of absence as the president of the Liberal Party (LP), expecting the President will accept it. The LP has a mechanism, as to who will replace him as party president, he said.

Roxas noted that he had asked the President for him to leave the LP to avoid conflict of interest while he serves as the DILG secretary.

When he starts as DILG chief on Monday, Roxas said he’ll first assess the needs of the department—one for the local government units and one for peace and security. The new DILG secretary underscored the importance of making sure that necessary structures are there for the department to function effectively.

Roxas said the primary instruction of the President is to ensure peace and security in the country particularly as the government prepares for the midterm election in May next year.

“So ipapa-prioritize natin ang laban sa pagsugpo sa kriminalidad. And parallel to this ay yung pagpapalakas, pagpapatibay sa mga LGUs dahil sa paghatid ng programa ng gobyerno ang LGUs ang talaga namang nasa frontline,” Roxas told reporters.

Roxas also made an assurance that he’ll continue Robredo’s programs on LGUs that ensure transparency in their transactions to gain public trust in government at least at the local level.

It is necessary because the national government allots around P300 billion to local government units each year, and they must be held accountable to the people on how they spend their money. PND (as/2:12pm)

Palace says police already augmented security to protect foreign nationals in Metro Manila

Malacanang made an assurance on Saturday that foreign nationals, particularly Americans, shall remain safe in Metro Manila despite a statement released by the US embassy calling its citizens to exercise extreme caution while in the metropolis.

The US Embassy in Manila advises its citizens that a threat against American citizens in metropolitan Manila, specifically the Pasay City neighborhood, has been detected by reliable security forces. The US Embassy said in its statement that the threat remains in effect until October 10, 2012.

In a radio interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) has already beef up security in Metro Manila to ensure peace and security amid protest actions by Muslims against a controversial film.

“We spoke with General Espina of the NCRPO yesterday and security has been augmented kahapon pa. So, bago pa lumabas ‘yung balitang ‘yan nag-augment na ng security ang NCRPO particularly to the US facility along Roxas Boulevard,” Valte said. “As a matter of precaution we have already augmented security.”

Since the assumption of Gen. Leonardo Espina as the NCRPO chief, the public could notice increased police visibility in the metropolis, Valte said adding the Philippine National Police is also implementing a new system of areas of responsibility.

The PNP now strictly carries out eight-hour shifts for police personnel and require them to observe a two-minute response time when the public calls for police assistance, the Palace official said.

Asked by reporters about the government’s plan to protect the public from the continuing protests, Valte said they haven’t seen mass actions becoming violent.

“Let’s be fair. So far the protests have been very peaceful and have been very orderly,” she said. PND (as/2:36pm)

PIA News Dispatch - Friday, September 28, 2012

President Aquino challenges Filipinos to remain steadfast in achieving common goal of an improved democracy to avoid errors of the past

President Benigno S. Aquino III challenged Filipinos to remain steadfast in achieving the common goal of an improved democracy to be able to avoid the needless suffering that took place during Martial Law.

In his speech at the launching of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile's autobiography, aptly called "Juan Ponce Enrile: A Memoir" held at The Peninsula in Makati City on Thursday, the Chief Executive said the book will empower the future generations to avoid the errors of the past.

President Aquino thanked the 88-year-old Enrile for sharing his thoughts, ideas and viewpoint that undoubtedly will enrich all of the Filipino people.

"By putting forward his recollections and his opinions, Manong Johnny bears witness to some of the most tragic and controversial events of our history, including Martial Law. His committing his memories and opinions to paper is a contribution to the historical record," the President said.

"How we bear witness may lead to our making opposite conclusions: It also extends the dividing line not just within, but across, generations," he added.

However, the President assured the younger readers of the book that "being exposed to opposing views is the hallmark of a true democracy."

"In a democracy, where thoughts can contend, we must embrace the challenge and the opportunity those competing ideas represent. The challenge is, to engage people with different views without being tempted to resort to oppression. The opportunity is to discover that we can share a common goal," he continued.

"That goal is an improved democracy, one that arose from a vibrant democracy -– where debate inspires innovation, and innovation serves the common good," the President further stressed.

The President, who received the first copy of Enrile's autobiography, said he looks forward to reading the book the soonest possible time.

"I expect there will be many things Manong Johnny and I will certainly disagree on but I assume there will be points that we can agree on," he said.

The ABS-CBN published Enrile's memoir. PND (js)

President Aquino leads inauguration of C-3 Quezon Avenue Interchange Project

President Benigno S. Aquino III formally opened on Friday the C-3 (G. Araneta Avenue) -- Quezon Avenue Interchange Project aimed at easing the traffic congestion in the area.

In a speech during the inauguration, the President said he’s happy that the Department Of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) was able to reduce the original budget allocation for the project—from P694 million to P430 million by improving the project design and carrying out competitive bidding.

The project was also completed 100 hundred days ahead of schedule, the President said adding that it was originally expected to be completed by early December.

The President noted that the money saved from the project could be spent to fund other undertakings.

He also expressed his gratitude to the DPWH, the project contractor and other entities that helped in the completion of the project.

“Talagang nagamit nang tama ang kaban ng bayan... Siyempre sa pamumuno at sa kooperasyon na rin ni Speaker [Feliciano Belmonte] at ng Kongreso at hindi pa tayo nagtatapos dito. Meron pa tayong three years and nine months para mapaganda, lalo na dahil babalik ako dito sa Quezon City, para hindi na tayo lahat nata-traffic at saka gumaan na lalo ang hanapbuhay at ginhawa ng ating mga kababayan,” the President said.

Under the project, a 440 meter, two-lane underpass was constructed along Quezon Ave. crossing C-3 (G. Araneta Ave.) in Quezon City. This also include a pump room housing three submersible pumps with an advanced discharge capacity of 277 liters per second and a power generating set for flood control. Diaphragm walls were also constructed to serve as retaining walls.
The contractor, under the supervision of the DPWH, also improved the existing road, installed street lights, drainage facilities and traffic signs in the area.

Over 100,000 vehicles traverse the area every day, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson told the President during the project briefing.

Singson said that each motorist could save P6 a day in fuel consumption resulting to monthly savings of P20 million. In one year, the saving would be P240 million, he said.

With those figures, the government could recover the P430 million spent for the project in two years, Singson said. PND (as/12:50pm)

President Aquino appoints new government officials

President Benigno S. Aquino III has appointed new officials in the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

The appointments were announced by Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte during a regular press briefing at Malacanang on Friday.

The Chief Executive signed the appointment letters of Teodulo R. Romo Jr. as DSWD Assistant Secretary; Javier R. Jimenez as Acting DSWD Assistant Secretary and Felino D. Castro V as Acting Director III of the DSWD. Romo will replace Parisya H. Taradji while Jimenez will succeed Mateo G. MontaƱo. Castro, on the other hand, will replace Jaime P. Eclavea.

He appointed Marcelo Nicomedes J. Castillo and Leonardo C. Reynoso as Director IV of the DSWD.

The President Aquino also appointed John Cu Unjieng Andrews as Deputy Director-General of CAAP which is under the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC). He replaced John Roa Andrews and his term of office is co-terminus with the appointing authority.

Other presidential appointees are Antonio M. Cailao, Dante B. Canlas, Bob D. Gothong, Victor S. Ziga, Ma. Gladys C. Sta. Rita, Potenciano V. Larrazabal Jr., Pedro A. Aquino Jr. and John Jimenez Arenas as members of the Board of Directors of the PNOC. Their term of office would end on June 30, 2013.

The Chief Executive, likewise, appointed Cailao as PNOC President and Chief Executive Officer.

He likewise appointed Ma. Gladys C. Sta. Rita, Herminio M. Alcasid Sr., Maria Carmina Cruz, Rizalina V. Lumbera and Ebert T. Bautista as the Board of Directors of PNOC-Development and Management Corporation. PND (js)

Malacanang says Coco Levy Task Force to come up with recommendations following Supreme Court ruling

The Presidential Task Force on the Coco Levy Fund (PTFCL) will reconvene on October 5 to finalize its recommendation to President Benigno S. Aquino III following a recent ruling of the Supreme Court on the contested coco levy funds, a Palace official said on Friday.

The SC awarded the government with finality the 24-percent bloc of San Miguel Corp. (SMC) shares bought using coconut levy money.

The President has asked the PTFCL to come up with a report and a recommendation on the issues surrounding the coco levy fund in light of the ruling of the SC, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a press briefing at Malacanang on Friday.

The PTFCL is composed of the Presidential Management Staff (PMS), National Anti-poverty Commission (NAPC), Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).

Valte said the task force could now be guided by the recent SC ruling in coming up with a recommendation to the President. The ruling, at least, sets a clearer parameter for the task force to work on, she added.

Asked by reporters if the President welcomed the SC ruling, Valte said the Chief Executive can’t comment at this time and he wants to see first the recommendation of the task force.

“The President would also like to see first the recommendations of the task force because it’s not just about welcoming the ruling but really, since we are in government now, it’s about taking concrete actions to address the issues that have come about because of the finality of the ruling of the Supreme Court,” Valte said.

Valte said that among the issues that have to be addressed include the custody of the coco levy fund. There are legislative initiatives calling for the creation of a particular trust fund for the coco levy, she added.

In SC’s unanimous decision last September 4, it denied with finality a motion for reconsideration filed by the Philippine Coconut Producers Federation (COCOFED), Maria Clara Lobregat, and others last February 14. The petitioners wanted the funds declared as public.

In its ruling in January, the SC upheld but modified a decision by the Sandiganbayan declaring SMC shares, having been bought with coco levy money, as public funds. The shares were registered under the names of Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF) and its holding companies.

The coco levy fund came from taxes imposed on coconut farmers during the Martial Law years by alleged cronies of the former strongman President Ferdinand Marcos.

The fund was reportedly used by the Marcos cronies to purchase the Coconut Planters Bank and a majority stake in the food and beverage giant SMC, which is currently a diversified conglomerate.

The shares being contested is valued at P84.3 billion last January, and being held in escrow in United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB). PND (as/2:53pm)

President Aquino assures Filipinos of government's commitment to address corruption and cleanse the bureaucracy

President Benigno S. Aquino III assured the Filipino citizenry of the government’s unyielding efforts to address corruption and cleanse the bureaucracy as he bared the administration’s long-term programs focused on the delivery of basic services and ensuring the safety of the people.

In his speech during the inauguration of the North Rizal Water System Project East La Mesa Water Treatment Plant in Payatas Road, Barangay Payatas, Quezon City, Friday morning, President Aquino underscored the importance of implementing reforms in governance and the support from the Filipino people.

“Patunay po ang araw na ito: sa pagtatanggal ng bulok sa sistema, sa pagsasala sa mga burak sa burukrasya, sa kalakhang kilos natin upang linisin ang pamahalaan, dumadalisay ang daloy ng pagseserbisyo natin sa bayan. Diretso ang pakinabang sa tao, at nag-uumapaw ang serbisyong dapat lamang na matanggap ng mamamayang Pilipino,” the President said.

“Malinaw po: Dito tayo dinadala ng tapat at malinis na pamamahala. Dito tayo binibitbit ng pagtutulungan at pagsasama-sama. Naway patuloy tayong sumuong sa iisang direksyon, at tiwala po ako: Kakayanin ng mga Pilipino ang hamon ng anumang alon. Mararating ng Pilipinas ang anumang pangarapin nating destinasyon. Sa tuwid at malinis pong pamamahala, tiwala pa rin tayong magagamit natin ang tubig upang higit pang mapaginhawa ang buhay ng mga Pilipino. Tuloy ang daloy ng mga inisiyatiba natin para makapaghatid ng malinis na inuming tubig, at mapababa ang peligrong hatid ng baha,” he continued.

The Chief Executive also expressed the government’s willingness to accomplish various programs aimed at the delivery of safe and potable water for the people through the coordination with the various concerned agencies such as the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS).

“Nitong Hulyo lang po nang makumpleto natin ang Angat Water Utilization and Aqueduct Improvement Project Phase II, na nagpabuti at nagpalawak sa supply natin ng tubig sa Rizal, Cavite, at Bulacan. At sa parehong buwan, nagkapirmahan na rin ang MWSS at ang Provincial Government ng Bulacan para sa Bulacan Bulk Water Supply Project upang tugunan ang pangangailangan ng tubig sa malaking bahagi ng kanila pong probinsya. Nitong buwan lang pong ito, naaprubahan na rin ng NEDA Board ang Angat Dam and Dike Strengthening, para naman mapatatag ang estrukturang ito laban sa kalamidad. Masusing pag-aaral at komprehensibong plano—dito po nakaangkla ang mga proyekto natin para sa mamamayan,” President Aquino said.

He discussed the approved master plan by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to solve the flooding problem in the metropolis and nearby provinces. This include the five billion peso-worth high-impact solutions to the perennial problems on flooding.

“Nitong buwan lang, aprubado na rin ng NEDA Board ang ating Master Plan for Flood Management in Metro Manila and Surrounding Areas. Para po ito sa pangangasiwa natin sa baha, kabilang na ang ilang priority structural at non-structural measures, na isasagawa hanggang taong 2035. Baka natanong ninyo, bakit hanggang 2035? Siyempre po, may watershed na kasama ito. Watershed, ang ibig sabihin puno, po. Punong itinanim. ‘Yung punong itinanim hintayin nating lumaki, tumayog, para mahigop ‘yung tubig ‘pag baha,” the President stressed.

“Long term po ang planong ito; pero sinisimulan na ang ilan sa ating mga inisyatiba. Ang target -- sa loob ng 15 to 18 months, makapaghatid na ng ginhawa sa ating mga kababayan. Ang paunang pondong gagamitin rito: limang bilyong piso para sa mga high-impact at agarang tugon sa baha; P1.6 billion para sa pag-upgrade ng mga pumping stations sa Metro Manila, na karamihan ay gawa pa po noong panahon ni Magellan yata; at 270-million pesos naman para sa pagbili natin ng iba’t ibang dredging equipment. Kung mapapansin po ninyo, hindi lang paunang lunas ang tugon natin sa ating mga serbisyong panlipunan—pangmatagalan ang ating mga solusyon. Hindi po natin hahayaan na ang mga problemang dinatnan natin ay mapagdaanan pa ng mga susunod na henerasyon,” the President added.

Witnessing the event were national and local officials that include Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, Quezon City Representative Winston Castelo, Marikina City Mayor Del de Guzman and Rodriguez Mayor Cecilio Hernandez, among others.

Also in attendance were Government Corporate Counsel Atty. Raoul Creencia, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System chairman Dondie Alikpala, MWSS administrator Gerry Esquivel, Manila Water Co., Inc chairman of the Board Fernando Zobel de Ayala, Manila Water CEO Gerardo Ablaza and Manila Water group director of operations Geodino Carpio. PND (jcl)