Thursday, 27 December 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, December 27, 2012


Achievements and reforms should put to rest all doubts on Aquino administration’s ability to lead – Lacierda

 The list of achievements and reforms implemented by President Benigno S. Aquino III in 2012 should silence all skeptics and doubting Thomases on his ability to rid government of its deeply entrenched image of corruption and lead the Filipino people to inclusive prosperity and justice, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said on Thursday.

 In a statement, Lacierda said President Aquino’s achievements for 2012 to establish lasting peace, boost investments in infrastructure and people, and further strengthen the economy have all contributed to making the Philippines a “bastion of stability and good governance.”

 “When the Filipino people gave an overwhelming mandate to President Benigno S. Aquino III in 2010, there were those who remained skeptical of the extent of reforms that can be instituted, given the entrenched culture of corruption and mistrust of government,” Lacierda said.

 “The many achievements of the Aquino administration in 2012 should put those doubts to rest. At home and around the world, the Philippines has become recognized as a bastion of stability and good governance. Through hard work, deft decision-making, and intense political will, the President has laid down the foundations of justice and inclusive growth. Through it all, he continues to clean house, eliminate waste, and put primacy on restoring public trust in our institutions,” he added.

 On establishing lasting peace, Lacierda said, the President led the “all out justice” stand to attain enduring peace in Mindanao through the signing of the Framework Agreement between the government and the MILF and by instituting reforms in the Judiciary beginning with the appointment of new Supreme Court Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.

 Lacierda added that the signing into law of the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances Act, the first of its kind in Asia, which criminalizes the unlawful arrest of civilians and ensures the preservation and protection of every Filipino’s civil liberties, clearly demonstrates the President’s commitment to human rights.

 “Through these reforms, we are strengthening a system where the law serves the people and works towards their full development. Without doubt, we are moving towards a society where fairness reigns—fueled by a people empowered by its government,” Lacierda said.

 On boosting investments in human and infrastructure capital, Lacierda pointed out President Aquino’s directive to spend more towards education, health, and poverty alleviation.

 “Agencies such as the Department of Health, the Department of Education, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (which spearheads the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program,) have all experienced sharp increases in their budget, proving the President’s resolve to lift our countrymen from the margins of society,” Lacierda said.

 On strengthening the economy, Lacierda noted the Philippines' strong growth and stable inflation despite the uncertainties of the global economy. This was marked by the Philippine GDP growth for the 3rd quarter in 2012 of a two-year high of 7.1 percent—the highest in Southeast Asia, and among the top performing economies in Asia.

 He said that the “the Philippine Stock Exchange index this year broke record high after record high, soaring above expectations and breaching the 5, 800 mark.”

 These positive indicators, he said, are all the results of President Aquino’s fiscal discipline, reforms to ramp up quality public spending, and heavy invested in both social and physical infrastructure.”

 “This is manifested in the 2.006-trillion peso General Appropriations Act for 2013, 10.5 percent higher than the 2012 budget. The 2013 GAA continues the Aquino administration’s tradition of an on-time passage of the budget-eliminating leak-prone reenactments and showing the determination of government to ensure that every peso of the budget is spent wisely,” Lacierda said.

 “Not only is the President enjoying the highest sustained public approval ratings in history—he is also being recognized by the international community as a true leader in foreign affairs. The Philippines has taken the lead in upholding a peaceful, multilateral, and consensus-driven diplomatic approach as regards territorial disputes. In this regard, President Aquino has stood his ground thus gaining the admiration of his fellow leaders in the global arena,” he added.

 Lacierda stressed that 2012 has been the “best year” for the Philippines and sees 2013 as another banner year with “more reason for Filipinos to travel on the straight path under the leadership of President Aquino and the adherents to his noble cause.”

 “While these past two and half years have been a period of continued renewal for the country, 2012 in particular has been a year of rebuilding and restoration. This year we saw the full effect of political will used correctly and for the right purposes, knowing that power is merely lent by the people to their leaders to ultimately serve the country’s best interests. By all indicators, this was the best year for the Philippines in a long time, a time for celebration and pride for the reclaimed standing of our country as we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other rising nations of the world,” Lacierda said.

 “In 2012, we turned the corner, fixed the damage wrought by the crooked ways of the past, and established further that the straight path is the only way forward. Despite the tragedies that have visited the country in 2012—from natural disasters to the untimely demise of a beloved reformist—the Filipino people have shown that their spirit cannot be broken. As the administration embarks on 2013, there is all the more reason for Filipinos to travel on the straight path under the leadership of President Aquino and the adherents to his noble cause,” he concluded. PND (rck)


Aquino government appeals to all Filipinos to refrain from using firecrackers, pyrotechnics to prevent injuries and loss of lives

The Aquino administration has appealed to the public to refrain from using dangerous firecrackers and pyrotechnics to prevent injuries and loss of lives during the New Year celebration, a Palace official said.

 Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda made the appeal during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Thursday following the report of the Department of Health (DOH) that there were already victims of firecrackers even before the New Year's revelry.

 From December 21-26 this year, there were a total of 71 fireworks-related injuries and one stray bullet case. However, the DOH stressed that the number of cases is 33% lower compared to the same period last year.

 According to the DOH, there were no deaths reported. Last year for the same period, there were 108 fireworks-related injuries: 99 from fireworks, 8 from stray bullets, and 1 from firecracker ingestion.

 "If I remember, ang sabi ng Pangulo (Benigno S. Aquino III) noon, kung sana imbes na magpaputok manood na lang tayo, mag-gather tayo sa common areas to watch fireworks. Marami pong fireworks on display this coming New Year so ‘yun po ang gawin sana natin," Lacierda said.

 The Philippine National Police (PNP) is strictly enforcing the law on firecrackers and pyrotechnics, Lacierda said

 "At kung gagamit ng paputok, sana ‘yung mga recommended (safe products) lang—may sinabi ang PNP. But the PNP on its own is also going on a campaign against the more fatal and more powerful firecrackers which do inflict damage on the citizens," he said.

 Lacierda stressed that the government continues to step up its campaign against dangerous firecrackers and pyrotechnics for the safety of the public.

 The campaign also aims to avoid or minimize the adverse effects of firecrackers to the environment.

 "We would certainly encourage the citizens to refrain from using the more dangerous firecrackers. It would be to your loss. It would really mean a loss of a limb, a loss of an arm, and even your life. So ang ating pakiusap sa ating mga mamamayan ay magdahan-dahan sa paggamit po ng mga paputok," he said. PND (js)


President Aquino declares January 16 as special non-working day in Navotas in celebration of its 107th Foundation Day
 
 President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared January 16, 2013, which falls on a Wednesday, as a special (non-working) day in the city of Navotas in celebration of its 107th Foundation Day.

 The Chief Executive issued the declaration through Proclamation No. 526 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on December 13 to give the people of the city of Navotas the full opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occasion with appropriate ceremonies.

 On January 16, 1906, Navotas became an independent municipality with the enactment of Philippine Commission Act. No. 1442 which separated Navotas from Malabon. PND (js)

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Government expects communist rebels to observe holiday truce

 The Philippine government made an assurance that it will observe the ceasefire agreed with the communist rebels for the celebration of Christmas and New Year and it expects the insurgents to do the same, a Palace official said on Wednesday.

 Both the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) have agreed to a bilateral ceasefire declaration for the holidays.

 With a bilateral ceasefire in effect, the government expects that the leadership of CPP-NPA-NDF will notify its troops on the ground, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing in Malacanang.

 With regards to the possible eruption of violence as the communists celebrate their 44th anniversary, Lacierda said the Armed forces will remain vigilant in the midst of possible threats from the rebels.

 Lacierda noted that there is a suspension of offensive military operations (SOMO) reached by both sides in recent talks at The Netherlands that should prevent clashes in the field.

 “The AFP is vigilant. There is a SOMO as agreed upon by the joint panel abroad. So we received that press release from, I think, the ambassador of Norway and Netherlands. But I just spoke to Colonel (Arnulfo) Burgos, kahit naman may SOMO vigilant sila,” he said.

 The communist rebels and Philippine government representatives held informal talks in The Netherlands last Monday, and agreed to keep the peace talks alive. At the same time they recommended a 27-day truce between guerrillas and soldiers.

 Both panels have agreed to a nationwide ceasefire from midnight of December 20 to midnight of January 15, 2013. Last year, the communist rebels and soldiers went into a truce from December 16, 2011 to January 2.

 The communist and government panels met on December 17 in The Hague and agreed to continue discussing important items such as the common declaration of national unity and just peace, democracy and human rights, agrarian reform, rural development and national industrialization. PND (as)


Malacanang says President Aquino closely monitoring situtation in the Visayas hit by typhoon Quinta

President Benigno S. Aquino III is closely monitoring the situation in the Visayas which was hit by typhoon Quinta during the Christmas holidays, a Palace official said on Wednesday.

 Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during the regular press briefing in Malacanang that the Chief Executive, who left on Tuesday night for a brief vacation, remains in contact with officials of concerned government agencies regarding the typhoon to ensure the safety of the people.

 "He is updated doon sa bagyo sa Visayas and on all other important matters of state, he is informed. But, again, this is an opportunity for the President to take a well-deserved rest. But it does not mean that the affairs of (the) state are not moving forward. He continuously receives information on the matters of the state," Lacierda said.

 President Aquino wants to ensure that the coordination among concerned government agencies is taking place so that there is an effective response to the situation in the country, Lacierda noted.

 "He is taking his break. Nonetheless, we were told that if there’s anything important, he is always a text away. And certainly communications are ongoing with him except that talagang we wanted to give the President more time to rest," Lacieda said. PND (js)

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Aquino declares January 10 as special non-working day in Koronadal City, South Cotabato in celebration of its Foundation Day

 President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared January 10, 2013, which falls on a Thursday, as a special (non-working) day in the city of Koronadal in the province of South Cotabato in celebration of its 73rd Foundation Day and the 13th Hinugyaw Festival.

The Chief Executive issued the declaration through Proclamation No. 525 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on December 13 to give the people of the city of Koronadal the full opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occasion with appropriate ceremonies.

Koronadal City, popularly known to locals as Marbel, is the capital of the province of South Cotabato.

Koronadal was once populated by the B’laan and Maguindanao tribes. Before World War II, people from Luzon and the Visayas settled in the place under the auspices of the National Land Settlement Administration 1939.

The Municipal Council Resolution No. 32, Series of 1948 mandated and proclaimed January 10 of each year as the Municipal Town Fiesta commemorating the foundation of Marbel Settlement District of the National Land Settlement.

In 2000, Koronadal became a component city of South Cotabato by virtue of Republic Act No. 8803 otherwise known as "An act converting the municipality of Koronadal, South Cotabato province, into a component city to be known as the City of Koronadal."

Hinugyaw Festival is celebrated every year in Koronadal City to pay homage to the first settlers who came to the city before the Japanese invasion in 1941. PND (js)

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, December 24, 2012


President Aquino declares January 4 as special non-working day in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro in celebration of its Foundation Day

 President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared January 4, 2013 which falls on a Friday, as a special (non-working) day in the municipality of Naujan in the province of Oriental Mindoro in celebration of its Foundation Day.

 The Chief Executive issued the declaration through Proclamation No. 528 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on December 17 to give the people of Naujan the full opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occasion with appropriate ceremonies.

 Naujan was recognized as a full-pledged municipality on January 4, 1905 by virtue of Act No. 1280 of the Philippine Commission. (js)

PIA News Dispatch - Sunday, December 23, 2012


Malacanang elated over move of Human Rights Watch extolling President Aquino and Congress for passage of Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act

 The Aquino administration expressed elation over the move of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) lauding President Benigno S. Aquino III and the Congress for the passage of the new law that criminalizes the enforced disappearances in the Philippines, a Palace official said.

 Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda issued the statement in an interview aired over government-run radio station Radyo ng Bayan on Sunday following the claim of the HRW that the newly-signed law is the first of its kind in Asia and a major milestone in ending human rights violations in the Philippines.

 Human Rights Watch is one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights.

 "We’re happy that they (HRW) have acknowledged this particular measure," Lacierda said.

 President Aquino signed into law on Friday Republic Act No. 10350 otherwise known as the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012.

 The new law criminalizes the “arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State.”

 The government vowed to effectively enforce the law in a bid to deter enforced disappearances and address the problem of human rights violations, Lacierda said.

 "This is a move that shows the determination and commitment of the Aquino administration to human rights," he said.

 In a statement, the HRW said the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012 closely reflects international legal standards on enforced disappearance.

 “President Aquino and the Congress deserve credit for acting to end the scourge of enforced disappearances in the Philippines,” Brad Adams, HRW Asia director, said.

 “This law is a testament to the thousands of ‘disappearance’ victims since the Marcos dictatorship, whose long-suffering families are still searching for justice. The challenge now is for the government to move quickly to enforce the new law,” Adams said.

 The HRW said the new law "reflects longtime recommendations by human rights organizations to the Philippine government to address unacknowledged detentions."

 "Anyone convicted of committing an enforced disappearance faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and may not receive an amnesty. Superior officers who order or are otherwise implicated in a disappearance face the same penalty as those who directly carried out the crime. The government cannot suspend the law even in times of war or public emergency," the HRW said.

 Under the law, subordinates can defy unlawful orders of superiors for the commission of enforced disappearances. It also calls for periodic update of registry of all detained persons in detention centers, and the law prohibits existence of secret detention facilities.

 The victims and kin could ask for compensation, restitution and rehabilitation under the new law. The severest penalty for violating the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012 will be Reclusion perpetua .

 It also mandates that Human Rights organizations shall participate in the crafting of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the law. PND (js)


PIA News Dispatch - Saturday, December 22, 2012


Aquino signs Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012

 President Benigno S. Aquino III signed the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda announced on Friday.

 The new law criminalizes the “arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State.”

 Most notable cases of enforced or involuntary disappearances include the abductions of Jonas Burgos, Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno as well as other desaparecidos. Under the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012, security forces involved in such offenses can be arrested and charged.

 Among the salient features of the law include non-exemption of any offender from amnesty, either convicted or facing prosecution, from liability.

 Also, war or any public emergency cannot suspend the enforcement of the anti-disappearance law. Command responsibility will also be observed, making superior officers culpable for violations of their subordinates.

 Under the law, subordinates can defy unlawful orders of superiors for the commission of enforced disappearance. It also calls for periodic update of registry of all detained persons in detention centers, and the law prohibits existence of secret detention facilities.

 Victims and kin could ask for compensation, restitution and rehabilitation under the new law. Reclusion perpetua will be the severest penalty for violating the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012.

 It also mandates that Human Rights organizations shall participate in the crafting of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the law. PND (as)


President Aquino extends  yuletide message, recognizes people’s contributions to nation building

 President Benigno S. Aquino III extended his Christmas message to the Filipino nation Saturday thanking every citizen for their contribution in building a culture honestly and generosity towards others as the country moves forward.

 “Pagkakataon ang Pasko para magpasalamat sa lahat ng biyayang ating natamasa. Sa ngalan ng buong pamahalaan, nagpapasalamat ako sa lahat ng Pilipinong nakiambag sa pagtatag ng kultura ng katapatan at malasakit sa kapwa,” the President said in his message aired over government-run radio station and posted on a government website on Saturday.

 “Dahil sa kakaibang pagsusumikap na ipinakita sa tuwid na daan, higit na nagiging makabuluhan ang Paskong Pilipino.”

 The President recognized the contributions of every Filipino in realizing major programs spearheaded by the present administration.

 Among these projects include the Sitio Electrification Program, which now energizes so many communities, giving joy to people as they celebrate the Yuletide season, the President said.

 Because of the support of the Filipino people, the government’s Conditional Cash transfer program was a success, the President said. The program provides assistance to poor families for them to have better lives and good health.

 “Malinaw po ---ang bawat butil ng tagumpay na ating inaani ay nagmula sa ipinunlang pagsusumikap ng sambayanan; kayo po, ang aming mga Boss, ang gumawa nito.”

 “Muli’t muli nating pinatutunayan sa mundo... bukod tangi ang Paskong Pilipino dahil sa kahandaan ng bawat isang maging tanglaw sa kaniyang kababayan, hindi lamang tuwing Kapaskuhan, kundi sa araw-araw na pagbagtas sa tuwid na daan. Isang maligayang Pasko po sa inyong lahat,” he added. PND (as)


Government approves guidelines protecting air travelers
 
 The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) recently approved the Rights of an Air Passenger that will protect air travelers from unfair practices.

 In a radio interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Transportation and Communication Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo signed the measure last December 10.

 The guideline took effect December 21, Valte said.

 Among the passengers’ rights under this guideline include the right to be provided with accurate information before ticket purchase, right to receive the full value of the service purchased, and the right to compensation.

 Passengers also have the right to be processed for check-in, and the right to sufficient processing time, Valte said.

 The DOTC has been receiving complaints that airline companies do not open check-in counters on time that result to long lines of passengers, which prompted the government to issue this guideline, she said.

 The DOTC now has an instruction saying check-in counters must open at least two hours before the estimated time of departure so that passengers do not experience so much inconvenience.

 The general rule for the right to board aircraft for the purpose of flight is that a passenger cannot be denied the right to board the aircraft without his consent.

 The policy also has guidelines on overbooking and the passengers’ right to compensation and amenities in case of cancellation of flight, Valte said.

 In the case of the right to compensation, passengers can ask for compensation for delayed, lost, and damaged baggage. They could also be compensated in case of death or bodily injury. PND (as)


Aquino to sign RH Bill before year ends
 
 President Benigno S. Aquino III will sign the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill into law before the year ends, a Palace official said on Saturday.

 “Before the end of the year ‘yan (RH Bill) naman ang pipirmahan,” Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday.

 The Senate approved on Monday night the reproductive health (RH) bill with a 13-8 vote. Before Monday’s vote, the bill had languished in Congress for 13 years. The Senate’s approval paves the way for the measure to become a law.

 The House of Representatives also approved on third reading recently the bill that President Aquino had certified as urgent.

 Proponents to the bill said the legislation would provide women the choice to determine the number of their children, give teenagers protection from unplanned pregnancies and educate citizens about sexual health.

 Valte also mentioned the signing of the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012 by the President. The law provides for the responsibility of both private and public individuals to report incidents of enforced disappearances.

 Reacting to the comment made by Human Rights Watch saying the President should show political will to enforce the law, Valte said, it’s the duty of the President to carry out the law for the benefit of the country and the people.

 “Ang mandato ng Pangulo ay ipatupad ang ating mga batas, at sigurong makikita naman natin doon sa mga nakaraang araw, nakaraang linggo… ipinakita ng Pangulo na namumuno talaga siya.”

 For instance, Valte said the 2013 national budget was passed three times straight in a row. The Sin Tax Law, considered a landmark legislation, was passed under the watch of the President, she said.

 “And also ang matagal na hotly contested and acrimonious Responsible Parenthood Bill ay naipasa rin naman sa ilalim ng pamumuno ng Pangulong Aquino,” she said. PND (as)

PIA News Dispatch - Friday, December 21, 2012


President Aquino leads awarding rites honoring soldiers and civilian employees of Armed Forces of the Philippines on its 77th anniversary

 President Benigno S. Aquino III led the awarding ceremonies honoring 12 soldiers and civilian employees for their outstanding achievements and heroic acts in the service in celebration of the 77th Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Anniversary at the AFP Grandstand, Camp Aguinaldo, in Quezon City on Friday.

 Anchored on the theme: “Bayanihan at Kahandaan: Tuwid na Daan Tungo sa Kapayapaan," this year’s AFP Anniversary celebration was highlighted by the awarding of 12 deserving AFP personnel who contributed to the advancement and promotion of the organization.

 Also present during the event were former president Fidel V. Ramos, Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin, AFP Chief of Staff General Jessie Dellosa and other officials of the AFP's major commands namely, Philippine Army (PA), Philippine Navy (PN) and Philippine Air Force (PAF), Police Deputy Director General Alan Purisima; Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena, Philippine Coast Guard chief, government officials, members of the Armed Forces Attaches, among others.

 The Chief Executive awarded 2nd Lieutenant Ferdinand J. Divina, PN, with the Distinguished Conduct Star; Colonel Glorioso V. Miranda, PA, (Distinguished Service Star); 1st Lieutenant Carlo P. Valdez, PAF, (Gold Cross Medal); Corporal Christopher C. Cabrito, PA, (Gold Cross Medal); Brigadier General Alejandro H. Estomo, AFP (Outstanding Achievement Medal); Colonel Emmanuel G. Cacdac, PA (Gawad sa Kaunlaran); CAA Abdurasad H. Asmad, (Kagitingan sa Barangay); Master Sergeant Fermin O. Rocio, (Enlisted Personnel of the Year); Cadet Col. Iceal Averroes E. Estrella, 1CL, Male Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Cadet of the Year; Cadet Col. Jaimie Lou T. Sarmiento, 1CL, Female ROTC Cadet of the Year, Aurora B. Ronquillo, Model Supervisor of the Year and Nelson G. Maligro, Model Civilian Employee of the Year.

 Upon his arrival, President Aquino was given full military honors.

 Another highight of the celebration was the presentation of the book entitled, "Kwentong Bayanihan," a collection of short stories written by members of the military and civilian sectors to illustrate the finest practices of Bayanihan to the President and the AFP Commander-in-Chief Aquino.

 The AFP also presented to the Chief Executive a DVD copy of 20 short films under "Kwentong Bayan," produced and directed by Filipino Pictures, Inc. It is envisioned to effectively show a different perspective on addressing the root causes of insurgency and social issues in the country.

 The event was also highlighted by the Inspection of troops, pass-in-review and the motorized contigent featuring some of the AFP's newly-acquired and refurbished equipment.

 The motorized contingent was composed of the Special Operations Command mounted on three KM450 vehicles, the 710th Special Operations Wing on one Humvee Combat Vehicle, two KM450 trucks and one Explosive, Ordnance and Disposal Van.

 The armored assets of the Philippine Army including two V150 Commando and three Simba Fighting Vehicles; Armored Assets of the Philippine Marine Corps including one Humvee Combat Vehicle, two V300 and one V150 combat vehicles; Army artillery assets including six Tubes Howitzers, newly-acquired field ambulance units and four new tonner trucks were paraded during the event.

 The celebration also featured a sky-diving exhibition. PND (js)


President Aquino vows government support for the Armed Forces of the Philippines to strengthen its capabilities

President Benigno S. Aquino III vowed the administration's unwavering support for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to strengthen its capabilities in the performance of its mandate of upholding the sovereignty the country and defending its territorial integrity and protecting the Filipino people.

 In his speech during the 77th AFP Anniversary at the AFP Grandstand in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Friday, the Chief Executive emphasized the importance of modernizing the AFP to enhance its capabilities in defending the country and the Filipino people.

 President Aquino graced the AFP anniversary rites which has for its theme “Bayanihan at Kahandaan: Tuwid na Daan Tungo sa Kapayapaan," as guest of honor and speaker.

 "Dahil sa inyong mga sakripisyo, makakaasa pa rin kayo sa patuloy na suporta ng pamahalaan at sambayanan....Mantakin po ninyo ---mahigit dalawampu’t walong bilyong piso ang agad nating inilaan para sa AFP Modernization Program sa loob lamang ng isang taon at pitong buwan. Mula sa pagiging kawawang cowboy, itinulak natin ang AFP bilang mas moderno’t mas maaasahang tanggulan," the President said.

 The President said the government will continue to effect reforms in the AFP to ensure that its funds will be used only in serving the needs of the people, including the soldiers and civilian employees of the armed forces services.

 The administration has already provided much-deserved benefits for the AFP military and civilian personnel.

 "Nariyan din ang 21,800 na bahay na itinayo para sa mga pulis at kasundaluhan, at ang karagdagang 31,200 na kabahayan pa na inaasahan nating makumpleto sa Agosto 2013, hindi lang para sa mga pulis at sundalo, kundi pati na sa mga bumbero at kawani ng BJMP," he said.

 President Aquino said the Framework Agreement signed by the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last October 15 is a vital step to attain genuine peace.

 "Matapos ang makasaysayang kasunduang pangkapayapaan sa Moro Islamic Liberation Front at sa pagtataguyod ng Bangsamoro, inaasahan po nating matutuldukan na rin ang deka-dekadang alitan sa katimugang bahagi ng bansa at magsisimula nang mapitas ng ating mga kapatid na Muslim at Lumad ang pangako ng kanilang lupang tinubuan," he said.

 He called on the AFP to step up its efforts in implementing the Internal Peace and Security Plan Bayanihan (IPSP) program.

 "Batid nating may masasamang elemento pa ring patuloy na pinagbabantaan ang kaligtasan at payapang pamumuhay ng ilang pamayanan sa bansa.....At hindi po tayo makukuntento hangga’t may mga pamilya pa ring naiipit sa mga walang katuturang bakbakan. Kumpiyansa at inaasahan po nating sa pag-iral ng IPSP Bayanihan, napipinto na ang paglaganap ng malawakang kapayapaan sa mga lugar na dati’y pugad ng armadong hidwaan," he stressed.

 The Chief Executive expressed high hopes that the AFP will continue to focus on their duties and responsibilities to maintain peace and order in the country.

 He also thanked the AFP personnel for their full support in the government’s programs aimed at uplifting and protecting the lives of the people as he cited the AFP’s important role in the government's humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in times of calamities.

 "Unti-unti na rin pong bumabangon ang ilang bahagi ng Visayas at Mindanao na sinalanta ng bagyong Pablo. Habang tumatanaw tayo ng malaking utang ng loob sa bawat kawal na nakibalikat sa panahon ng sakuna, huwag sana nating limitahin ang kaya pa nating magawa," the President said.

 "Huwag sana tayong makuntento sa kung ano ang kaya nating iambag pagkatapos lamang ng sakuna; sa halip, tumutok tayo sa kung ano ang kaya nating gawin bago pa man ito sumalanta. Ibig sabihin, bago pa man madapa ang ating mga kababayan, dapat ay nakahanda na tayong pigilan ang kanilang pagbagsak at isinagad natin ang lahat ng ating makakaya para maiwasan ito.," he added. PND (js)

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, December 20, 2012

CHRISTMAS MESSAGE

 Today we celebrate the most joyous occasion in our Christian Life - the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 A special time to the good Lord for all of the blessings He continuous to pour upon us, as signified by sending His only begotten Son to personify His great love for mankind.

 Let us work on these blessings with all our hearts and mind so that others may enjoy them, and live in His love to make this world of ours a most beautiful and enjoyable place to live in.

 A very Merry Christmas to one and all!

                                                                                                                                                   
(Sgd.) SONNY COLOMA
                                                                                                                                                                   Secretary


Malacañang hails Tugonon’s first runner-up win at Ms. Universe Pageant

 Malacañang hailed on Thursday the first runner-up finish of Janine Tugonon at the Ms. Universe pageant held at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada; saying her achievement showcased to the world, “the grace, sophistication, and beauty” of Filipinas.

 In a statement, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said Tugonon’s win further highlighted the exceptional characteristics of Filipinos as “world-class.”

 “Ms. Janine Tugonon, by winning 1st runner up in the Miss Universe pageant, held up the country’s banner and showed the world, once again, the grace, sophistication, and beauty that Filipinas possess,” Valte said.

 “From her winning as Binibining Pilipinas to representing our proud nation on the stage of Miss Universe, the Filipino people have supported Ms. Tugonon throughout her journey and in the hearts of our countrymen; she is our winner, our Miss Philippines,” she added.

 “With the victory of Ms. Tugonon, we find even more proof of the exceptional characteristics of Filipinas and Filipinos to be truly world-class,” Valte said.

 With the win, Janine Tugonon now joins former Binibining Pilipinas-Universe winners, Venus Raj in 2010 (4th runner-up) and Shamcey Supsup in 2011 (3rd runner-up), who have been included in the top five of the prestigious pageant.

 This year’s Ms. Universe is Miss USA's Olivia Culpo who, together with Tugonon, Miss Venezuela Irene Sofia Esser Quintero, Miss Australia Renae Ayris, and Miss Brazil Gabriela Markus, complete the the top five beauty finalists of Ms. Universe 2012. PND (rck)


President Aquino signs into law Republic Act No. 10351, An Act Restructuring the Excise Tax on Alcohol and Tobacco in Malacanang
 
President Benigno S. Aquino III signed into law Republic Act 10351 (An Act Restructuring the Excise Tax on Alcohol and Tobacco) otherwise known as the Sin Tax Reform 2012 in ceremonies in Malacañang Palace on Thursday.

 The signing ceremony was witnessed by representatives from the Senate, Congress, Department of Health, Department of Finance, Department of Budget and Management, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Transportation and Communications, other government agencies, health professionals, medical societies, patients’ groups, academe, and other health advocates from the civil society.

 The Sin Tax Reform 2012 is considered as the only tax reform on alcohol and tabacco products that favor both the government and the Filipino people.

 The Republic Act 10351 is a consolidation of House Bill 5727 as amended and Senate Bill 3299 as amended.

 The House Bill 5727 as amended was passed by the House of Representatives last June 6, 2012, while Senate Bill 3299 as amended was passed by the Senate last November 20, 2012.

 The bicameral conference committee report reconciling the two bills was ratified by both Houses of Congress last December 11, 2012. The measure, a priority of the Aquino administration, was certified urgent by the President of the Philippines to ensure its speedy passage.

 The enactment of the law is a victory in the government's campaign to protect the people, especially the young and the poor, from the ill effects of smoking and excessive drinking. The reform aims to reduce tobacco and alcohol consumption among the Filipinos that leads to better health outcomes.

 The law aims to generate government's revenues to fund the Universal Health Care.

 After deducting the allocations for assistance to tobacco farmers under existing laws R.A. 7171 and R.A. 8240, eighty percent (80%) of the remaining balance of the incremental revenue will be earmarked for the universal health care under the National Health Insurance Program and twenty percent (20%) will be allocated nationwide for medical assistance and health enhancement facilities program.

 The law provides additional funding for tobacco farmers' livelihood program.

 The Sin Tax Reform law paves the way for the removal of the price/brand classification freeze. The proper tax classification of alcohol and tobacco products will be determined every two (2) years.

 With the crafting of the law, there will be gradual shift to a unitary taxation in order to simplify the current multi-tiered structure.

 To prevent the excise taxes to be eroded by inflation, the excise tax rates will be increased by 4% every year effective 2016 for distilled spirits, and 2018 for cigarettes and beer.

 The sin tax reform conforms to the World Trade Organization's ruling on distilled spirits and World Health Organization- Framework Convention on Tobacco Control' commitment on cigarettes. The excise tax incidence for cigarettes, which is the ratio of excise tax to price, will increase from the current 29.1% to 52.5% in 2013 and 63% by 2017.

 The law also aims to generate more revenues for the government. On the first year of implementation, the government is expected to raise additional revenues worth P33.96 billion, of which, P23.4 billion is from cigarrettes, P6.06 billion from distilled spirits and P4.5 billion from fermented liquors.

 Also in attendance were Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. Senator Franklin Drilon; Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares, Deputy Speaker Maria Isabel Climaco, Senior Deputy Majority Leader Janette Garin Representative Isidro Ungab, Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, Representative Henedina Abad, among others.

 Representatives from the World Health Organization, the United States Agency for International Development and the World Bank and industry and business sectors also attended the event. PND (js)


President Aquino says passage of Sin Tax Reform 2012 to help government to provide better health for Filipinos
 
President Benigno S. Aquino III said the passage of the Republic Act 10351 (An Act Restructuring the Excise Tax on Alcohol and Tobacco) otherwise known as the Sin Tax Reform 2012 will help the government to provide better health for all Filipinos.

 In his speech during the signing of the Sin Tax Reform 2012 held at the Rizal Hall of the Malacanang Palace on Thursday, the Chief Executive said the law was crafted to generate revenues for the government to make Kalusugan Pangkalahatan or Universal Health Care a reality for the people.

 "Sa araw pong ito, nilagdaan natin, sa wakas—ulitin ko lang po, sa wakas—ang isang batas na magsisilbing maagang Pamasko sa milyun-milyong Pilipino—mga Pilipinong masasaklaw sa abot-kamay nang Universal Health Care program; mga Pilipinong makikinabang sa mga bagong klinika at ospital na mapopondohan at maipapatayo; mga Pilipinong maililihis sa bisyo ng paninigarilyo at labis na pag-inom. Batas na po ang ipinaglaban nating Sin Tax Reform Act," the Chief Executive said.

 The President said the passage of the law is a vital step forward in improving and expanding public health safety nets for all Filipinos.

 "Malinaw po ang batayang prinsipyo ng batas na ito: Hangad nating gawing abot-kamay para sa lahat ang benepisyong pangkalusugan, mayaman man o mahirap, sagrado po kasi ang buhay ng Pilipino," he said.

 President Aquino said the Sin Tax Reform 2012 provides additional funding for tobacco farmers' livelihood program.

 "Lilinawin ko rin lang po sa mga magsasakang nabulungan ng agam-agam ng ilang sektor na kontra sa batas na ito: Wala po kayong dapat ikabahala. Ang benepisyong natatanggap ninyo dati ay hindi maglalaho; ang totoo nga po—sa amin pong pakiwari—lalaki pa iyan, habang tumitibay naman ang suporta sa inyo ng pamahalaan sa pamamagitan ng iba pang ayuda," he said.

 The President thanked Senator Franklin M. Drilon, acting chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and other legislators for their efforts in ensuring the passage of the health measure.

 He also thanked the support of the Department of Health, Department of Finance, Bureau of Internal Revenue and the government's partners in the academe, medical societies, patients’ groups, business sector, farmers' groups, and economists and other members of civil society for the passage of the health measure.

 "Batid po natin ang matagal na pakikipagsapalaran ng maraming sektor para sa Sin Tax Reform; 1997 pa po nang unang ihain ang ganitong klaseng panukala sa Kongreso. Halos labing-anim na mahabang taon kung kailan pinagdebatehan, binusisi, at kung minsan, halos isinantabi ang isang panukalang batas na magliligtas sa buhay ng mga Pilipino," he said.

 "Maraming nag-isip na imposibleng maipasa ang Sin Tax Reform Bill: malakas ang kalaban; maingay, organisado, at malalim ang bulsa ng mga kumukontra," he noted.

 "Pero gaya po ng paulit-ulit nating napatunayan: Walang imposible sa Pilipinong sumasagwan sa iisang direksyon, nasa tamang lugar ang puso, at handang manindigan para sa kanyang mga prinsipyo. Hangga’t nasa likod po natin ang ating mga boss, walang balakid na hindi natin madadaig," he said. PND (js)


President Aquino welcomes Donaire to Malacañang
 
President Benigno S. Aquino III warmly welcomed Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire to Malacañang after the Filipino boxing superstar, fresh from his successful defense of his World Boxing Organization super bantamweight title against Mexican Jorge Arce last December 15, paid a courtesy call on the Chief Executive on Thursday.

 Also on hand to welcome Donaire were Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Secretary Ramon Carandang and Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte.

 In an interview with media after the close to an hour meeting, Donaire, who described the President as “very chill” said he and the President discussed the various plans and strategies he had lined up to improve the lives of Filipinos.

 “In American words, we call him (President Aquino) very chill. He just has a very positive aura, he’s just very relaxed and he talks about his ideas for the Philippines,” Donaire said.

 Donaire said he was awestruck at the eloquence, will and dedication of the President into fulfilling these ideas so that all Filipinos could rise above and become better people.

 “This is one person na nakita ko talaga who just wants a good nation, wants our nation to improve. Makikita mo talaga from his words and from his demeanor and his emotions that he really loves this country and to me, it was such an honor that I was able to talk to him,” Donaire said.

 He added that the President also offered him advice particularly on his boxing career.

 “Binigyan niya ako ng pointers as to- there is a beginning and there is an ending- and that when that time comes for me, especially in boxing, I should do (and decide) things the right way,” Donaire said. PND (rck)


Aquino administration welcomes move of standard and poor’s for raising credit rating outlook for Philippine economy
 
The Aquino administration welcomed the move of the Standard & Poor’s (S&P) for raising its credit rating outlook for the Philippine economy from stable to positive.

 "Standard & Poor’s (S&P) has raised its credit rating outlook for the Philippine economy from “BB+ Stable” to “BB+ Positive.” This means that we can expect, barring any unforeseen circumstances, an actual credit rating upgrade in the coming months," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a statement issued on Thursday.

 "In its rationale, S&P hailed the Aquino administration for its “improved capacity to effect reform,” according to Lacierda, which he said stems from “a level of legitimacy, support, and stability that reduced political uncertainty and allows for improved legislative efficiency.”

 Lacierda said the improved outlook comes at the heels of the signing of the landmark bill reforming sin taxes that will further strengthen the government’s fiscal position.

 "We welcome this acknowledgment of the positive strides the Philippines has taken under the Aquino administration and a recognition of our thrust that indeed good governance results in good economics," he said.

 A positive outlook means a country's rating may be raised within the next year.

 "We revised the outlook to positive to reflect our reappraisal of the political and institutional factors underlying the ratings," analyst Agost Benard said in the statement. PND (js)