Sunday, 4 November 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, November 1, 2012

Presidential directive strengthens alternative dispute resolution mechanism in gov’t
 In a bid to further enhance the business environment in the Philippines and hasten the resolution of cases involving government projects, President Benigno S. Aquino III placed under the Office for Alternative Dispute Resolution (OADR) the management and development of dispute resolution programs for the Executive Department.

 The President signed Executive Order No. 97 on Oct. 18, giving the OADR all the authority and functions previously being discharged by the Office of the President (OP) over disputes filed with the courts, quasi-judicial bodies or administrative offices, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said on Thursday.

 According to Ochoa, the presidential directive will complement Executive Order No. 78 issued on July 4, 2012, which provides for the mandatory inclusion of ADR in all contracts and agreements for public-private partnership (PPP), build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme and joint venture entered into between the government and private entities and local government units (LGUs).

 Ochoa explained that both presidential directives were in line with the government’s policy of providing a conducive business climate for private investments by making the resolution of disputes less expensive, tedious and time-consuming, especially for large-scale, capital-intensive infrastructure and development projects.

 “The use of ADR will also allow government agencies to focus on other important tasks and functions such as the delivery of basic services instead of attending to disputes,” Ochoa said.

 Under EO No. 97, the OADR will oversee, monitor, coordinate and evaluate the development of ADR programs and services in agencies under the Executive Branch.

 Each agency is directed to submit a status report to the OADR on the designation of a senior official and an alternate responsible for its ADR programs and activities, among others, within three months from the time the presidential order took effect.

 EO No. 97 is in effect 15 days after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation.

 Based on the President’s order, each government agency will submit every six months reports and update about its ADR program to the OADR, along with specific suggestions to cut down delays, changes to existing laws and practices, and enhancement proposals.

 The OADR, on the other hand, is instructed by the President to regularly submit to him through the Executive Secretary an annual report on the policies, programs and activities pertaining to the implementation of EO No. 97.

 According to Ochoa, it became a policy of the government to actively promote the freedom of parties involved to make their own arrangement in settling disputes for swift and just solution of cases when ADR Act of 2004 was put in place.

 In 2006, Executive Order No. 523 was issued and instituted the use of ADR in the Executive Department and directed the OP to manage the development of ADR practice in executive agencies.

 “EO No. 523 was issued pending the promulgation of the implementing rules and regulations of the ADR Act and the full operation of the OADR. To date, however, the OADR is fully operational with the needed staff support and resources to perform its functions under the law,” Ochoa noted.

 The issuance of EO No. 97 by President Aquino revokes EO No. 523.

 EO No. 97, however, states that it does not cover management, oversight and implementation of the barangay justice system, and should not be interpreted to repeal, amend or modify the jurisdiction of the Katarungang Pambarangay under the Local Government Code of 1991.

President Aquino joins the nation in the observance of All Saints' Day, All Souls' Day
 President Benigno S. Aquino III joined the nation in the observance of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day as he cited the traditional practice of the Filipino citizenry in paying respects to their departed ancestors and love ones.

 "Ang pamilya ang matatag na pundasyon ng ating bansa. Maigting na binubuklod ang pamilyang Pilipino ng paggalang sa ating mga ninuno at mga namayapa," the Chief Executive said in his message on the occasion of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day.

 "Ngayong Undas, isang bansa po nating ginugunita ang mga yumao nating mahal sa buhay; dumadalaw sa kanilang mga puntod, nagsasalo-salo, at nag-aalay ng panalangin," he said.

 President Aquino assured that the government will continue to work in ensuring the safety of the public during the observance of the Undas 2012.

 "Makakaasa po kayo na mananatiling alerto ang inyong gobyerno sa pagbabantay at pagsisilbing gabay sa inyong paglalakbay ngayong Undas," he stressed.

 The President also vowed that the concerned government agencies are on heightened alert for the safety and orderly travel of passengers.

 "Pinaigting natin ang seguridad sa ating mga paliparan, daungan, at estasyon ng mga pangunahing trasportasyon sa bansa," he said.

 "Nagtalaga na po tayo ng karagdagang mga pulis at sundalo upang matiyak ang maaliwalas na pagluwas ng ating mga kababayan, at upang mabilis na matugunan ang mga pangangailangan ng manlalakbay," the President said. PND (js)

Palace announces activation of PNP task force SAFE 2013
 The Philippine National Police (PNP) has activated a task force that will address the proliferation of loose firearms and dismantle private armed groups as the country prepares for the 2013 mid-term election, Malacanang announced on Thursday.

 In a radio interview over government-run radio station dzRB Radyo ng Bayan, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the PNP leadership has already activated the Task Force SAFE 2013 in preparation for the election. SAFE stands for Secure and Fair Election.

 Valte said the task force started its work three weeks ago, which includes several action plans to ensure a safe and orderly 2013 election.

 She noted that among the concerns of the task force is the identification of election hotspots in the country, monitoring and neutralization of private armed groups and the accounting of loose firearms, Valte said.

 The campaign has a three-pronged approach with major concentration on eliminating private armed groups and accounting of loose firearms in the country.

 According to Valte, the PNP has confiscated around 4,000 firearms in the first semester of the year through its “Kontra Boga” campaign.

 But because of the All Saints Day observance this week, Valte said, the PNP has concentrated on ensuring the peace and order situation in the country but will soon resume the campaign against private armed groups and loose firearms once the observance is over.

 “After nitong Undas magre-resume na ang focus ng PNP on Task Force SAFE 2013. Ini-expect lang that the assets are now being used to ensure security because of the exodus that we have for Undas that they will revert to their concentration on Task Force SAFE after matapos na ‘yung Undas activities,” Valte said. PND (as/1:31pm)

Malacanang says government to extend assistance to United States after it was badly hit by Hurricane 'Sandy'
 The Philippine government will extend assistance to the United States of America (USA) after Hurricane ‘Sandy’ -- the largest Atlantic tropical hurricane on record -- battered New York and surrounding cities last month, a Palace official said on Thursday.

 In an interview aired over government-run radio-station dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Thursday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has conveyed to U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas, Jr. about the government's message of sympathies and support to the American people.

 "This was communicated by Secretary Del Rosario to Ambassador Thomas Wednesday at magbibigay po tayo ng tulong through the American Red Cross. Yung figure po diyan that will be around 250,000 (US) dollars. Valte said.

 According to Valte, the Philippine embassy officials based in the US are closely monitoring the situation of the Filipinos who are living in the East Coast which was battered by Hurricane Sandy.

 "Nagmo-monitor po ang ating embahada sa Estados Unidos. Bukas po ang mga linya nila. Kung makatatawag po kayo, if you (can) manage to contact, if you need help you can contact our embassy and they will be ready to provide assistance," Valte said.

 Recent reports noted that Hurricane ‘Sandy’ was one of the biggest storms that ever hit the United States. Over three million people were left without electricity due to the rise of floodwaters in several areas.

 Last Tuesday, Malacanang issued a statement to express its sympathies to the American people, especially to the Filipino-American communities, who are being seriously affected by Hurricane ‘Sandy’.

 Valte said that Filipinos are one in offering prayers for the safety of those who are presently being hammered down by the natural calamity.

 “As Hurricane ‘Sandy’ batters the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, we extend our sympathies and support to all those affected by this calamity. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of those who are facing these difficult times, among them the Filipino-American community,” Valte said.

 “The devastation caused by the storm continues to unfold, but we are confident that the resolve of the American people to overcome this catastrophe remains steadfast, strong, and unbending,” she said. PND (js)

Government doing everything to address concerns of aviation industry, Palace says
 The government will continue addressing the concerns of the country’s aviation industry for it to pass the final assessment of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) next year, Malacanang said on Thursday.

 Recent reports said the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) will remain in Category 2 status after ICAO found two major concerns during its review.

 The ICAO inspectors said they found two “significant safety concerns (SSC) during their 10-day evaluation. ICAO said The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines must address “aircraft registration and flight safety inspection.”

 Reacting to the recent ICAO assessment, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview over state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Thursday that despite the shortcomings, the important thing is that the government is addressing the problem and expects to solve it prior to ICAO’s final audit in 2013.

 “Nakipag-coordinate na tayo kay DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya and I think the more important issue is not whether we are disappointed pero kung ano ang ating ginagawa,” Valte said.

 “Ang feedback is we have made significant progress on some of the areas of concern pero meron pa ring kailangang gawin.”

 CAAP will undergo the final audit in the first quarter of 2013 and Valte said CAAP and the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) are optimistic that the country would eventually pass ICAO’s evaluation.

 The Philippine Airlines, the country’s flag carrier, hopes that the Philippine aviation industry would be upgraded to Category 1 status so that its new fleet could fly to new routes in the United States and Europe.

 The then-Air Transportation Office (ATO) was downgraded from Category 1 to Category 2 status in 2007 after an ICAO review found 89 significant concerns during an inspection.

 The downgrade compelled the government to abolish the Air Transportation Office and replace it with CAAP through Republic Act (RA), 9497. PND (as/2:35pm)

Aquino administration assures passage of sin tax reform bill would help increase income of farmers
 The Aquino administration assured that the Malacanang-endorsed sin tax reform bill when passed into law would provide funds for Filipino tobacco farmers to help them increase their income.

 In an interview aired over government-run radio station dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Thursday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte made it clear that the passage of the sin tax measure would provide safety nets for the farmers to ensure a better income for them.

 "Part of the revenue that will be collected will go into a safety net for tobacco farmers precisely because meron mga concern na ‘yung iba daw po sa kanila madi-displace," she said.

 Valte stressed that the sin tax measure would not only generate revenues for the government to strengthen the country’s health care system but also level the playing field that could increase the income of local tobacco farmers.

 "However, when it comes to the particular point on taxes, hahayaan na lang po natin ang lehislatura kung ano ang actual na buwis na ipapataw dahil ngayon nga po pending pa rin sa Senado ang panukala sa sin tax," Valte said.

 Last May, President Benigno S. Aquino III certified as urgent House Bill 5727 or Sin Tax Reform Bill that seeks to increase taxes on cigarettes and alcohol products.

 The House Bill, authored by Cavite Representative Joseph Emilio Abaya, will restructure alcohol and cigarette taxes. PND (js)