Sunday, 9 December 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Friday, December 7, 2012

President Aquino visits Compostela Valley and other disaster-affected areas wrought by typhoon ‘Pablo’; oversees ongoing search, rescue and relief efforts

President Benigno S. Aquino III said the government is beefing up its disaster response operations to find and rescue the missing residents in disaster-affected areas in Mindanao following the devastation wrought by typhoon "Pablo."

The Chief Executive visited the Compostela Valley and other disaster-affected areas to oversee the search and rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts there. He was accompanied by Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas, Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Benito Ramos

"Nandito ho kami para malaman—importante sa akin—number one, ang ating mga nawawala, iyong missing. Gusto kong ma-account kung mayroon po (missing)—kung puwede lahat buhay pa, maabutan natin as soon as possible," President Aquino told the crowd gathered in Brgy. Cabinuan, New Bataan, Compostela Valley.

"Gusto kong malaman kung bakit nangyari ang trahedyang ito. Gusto kong makita rin kung paano maiiwasan ang magkaroon ng ganitong trahedya ulit. Pero siyempre ho kailangang maasikaso lahat ng nabubuhay, kaya nandito kami ngayong araw na ito. Masigurado ring ang gobyerno ay talagang naglilingkod sa inyong lahat," he said.

President Aquino is also closely monitoring the government’s response for the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts to immediately bring back to normal the lives of the residents who were greatly affected by the devastation.

"Nandito ako para makinig (at) gusto kong malaman lahat ang sagot doon sa mga katanungang pumapalibot sa aking isipan. Gusto ko lang iwan sa inyo na hindi titigil ang pamahalaan niyo na manigurado na pagandahin ang buhay niyo at iwasan ang ganitong klaseng sakuna," he said.

The government agencies concerned with disaster response were already mobilized to assist the affected communities as part of the efforts to mitigate the impact of the typhoon, the President noted.

"Hindi ho ako kuntento, kailangan talaga habulin natin na walang masasalanta tuwing may sasapit na ganitong pagkakataon," he said.

The President also called on the people to cooperate with the government in rebuilding the lives of the typhoon victims.

"Makipagtulungan po tayo sa ating gobyerno at ilalagay namin kayo sa mas maayos na kalagayan sa lalong madaling panahon," he said. PND (js)

President Aquino creates the National Organizing Council for the Philippine hosting of the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings

President Benigno S. Aquino III has created the National Organizing Council for the Philippine hosting of the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings.

The Chief Executive issued the directive by virtue of Administrative Order No. 36 (series 2012) signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on November 28.

President Aquino said the Philippines, which remains committed to the continued growth and development of the Asia-Pacific region through close and meaningful cooperation with the countries in the region, continues to be an active member-economy of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

The Philippine Council for Regional Cooperation (PCRC) was created by the President under Administrative Order No. 20 (s. 2011), to upgrade and reinforce inter-agency coordination in the formulation and consolidation of all positions and strategies of the Philippines as it participates in APEC and all other regional and inter-regional organizations and fora.

"The Philippines has agreed to host the 2015 APEC annual meetings, which include the APEC Senior Officials Meeting and Related Meetings, the APEC Ministerial and Sectoral Ministerial Meetings, and the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting," President Aquino said.

In issuing the Administrative Order No. 36, the President noted that there is a need to constitute a separate National Organizing Council (NOC) to manage and supervise all tasks and activities related to the Philippine hosting of APEC in 2015 and ensure a successful Philippine hosting.

The APEC-NOC is composed of the Executive Secretary as chairperson, Secretary of Foreign Affairs as co-chairperson, Co-Chairperson and Secretary of Trade and Industry, Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority, Secretary of Budget and Management, Secretary of Finance, Secretary of Transportation and Communications, Secretary of Tourism, Secretary of Public Works and Highways, Secretary of the Interior and Local Government, Secretary of National Defense, Cabinet Secretary, Secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), Secretary of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO), National Security Adviser, Head of the Presidential Management Staff (PMS), Chairperson of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and Chairperson of the APEC 2015 – Private Sector Advisory Council (APSAC) as members.

The Local Chief Executives of the Local Government Units (LGUs) selected to serve as the site of the APEC 2015 meetings may be invited as Special Members of the APEC-NOC and the APEC 2015 Committees.

"The APEC-NOC Chairperson and the APEC 2015 Committee Heads may require the participation of the heads of other departments and/or agencies, government-owned or -controlled corporations (GOCCs), and invite LGUs, representatives from the private sector, and the academe, as may be deemed necessary," the President said.

The administrative order also prescribed the authority and functions of the APEC-NOC.

The APEC-NOC shall approve and recommend to the President a Master Plan for the Philippine hosting of APEC in 2015, including an estimated budget for the APEC meetings. It shall issue administrative guidelines and instructions as may be necessary to achieve the objectives of this administrative order..

It shall perform any and all acts and functions as may be deemed appropriate and necessary to ensure the proper functioning of the APEC-NOC, the Executive Committee, and the Committees, to advance the purposes of this administrative order, and to ensure the successful hosting of APEC in 2015.

It shall submit periodic reports to the President throughout the duration of the APEC 2015 Hosting. The APEC-NOC Chairperson shall convene the meetings of the APEC-NOC regularly and as often as may be necessary to ensure proper coordination and implementation of the 2015 Hosting Master Plan and the individual Work Plans of its committees.

"An Executive Committee shall be established to serve as the full-time, day-to-day operations arm of the APEC-NOC to ensure that the programs, projects, and activities to be undertaken in preparation for the Philippine hosting of APEC in 2015 shall run continuously, smoothly, efficiently, and effectively," the President said.

The President, likewise, ordered the establishment of the APEC 2015 Committees to assist the APEC-NOC.

The APEC-NOC shall approve and recommend to the President a Master Plan for the Philippine hosting of APEC in 2015, including an estimated budget for the meetings, within sixty (60) days from the issuance of the AO No. 36.

"Financial requirements that may be needed by the APEC-NOC for fiscal years 2012 and 2013 shall be charged against the available savings of the concerned agencies involved in this administrative order and/or shall be taken from any available sources as may be identified by DBM," the President said.

"Appropriations for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 shall be incorporated in the budget proposals under the International Commitments Fund," he added.

This administrative order shall take effect immediately, and shall remain in full force and effect until December 31, 2015. PND (js)

President Aquino names University of the Philippines Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer as the new government peace panel chief negotiator

President Benigno S. Aquino has appointed University of the Philippines (UP) Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer as the new chairperson and chief negotiator of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) peace panel, a Palace official announced on Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that Professor Coronel-Ferrer was named as the successor of Mario Victor F. Leonen who was appointed by President Aquino as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (SC) last November.

Prof. Coronel-Ferrer is a professor of Political Science at the UP where she teaches comparative politics and political theory. She was director of the UP Third World Studies Center from 2000 to 2003 and deputy director from 1995 to 1998.

She also convened the Program on Peace, Democratization, and Human Rights of the UP Center for Integrative and Development Studies until 2005. Beginning in July 2010, she joined the Government Negotiating Panel for Talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Prof. Coronel-Ferrer co-chaired the Non-State Actors Working Group of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines from 1999-2004. She joined fact-finding missions organized by international NGOs investigating violence in Cambodia (1993, 1997), East Timor (1999, 2000), and Nepal (2003). She was one of 27 Filipinas who are part of the “1000 Women for the Nobel,” nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

She also served as visiting professor at Hiroshima University in Japan, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Korea, and Gadja Madah University in Indonesia; and had written several articles on Philippine civil society, politics, regional autonomy and peace processes in international and local journals and books. PND (js)

Government agencies assure President Aquino of sufficient supply of potable water in calamity areas

Concerned government agencies has assured President Benigno S. Aquino III of enough supply of potable water as well as the immediate installation of water purifiers in affected communities in areas devastated by Typhoon Pablo in Mindanao.

In a briefing by the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) held at the Davao International Airport, Executive Director Benito Ramos said the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has already sent potable water in New Bataan, Compostela Valley.

Potable water supply from Manila Water is also arriving tomorrow. Albay is also giving water to the typhoon victims.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will coordinate where to locate the water supplies for easy access of the people, Secretary Dinky Soliman told the President during the briefing.

However, while the people are waiting for the supply of clean water, the Department of Health has already distributed chlorine tablets, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said.

The DOH is also distributing medicines to affected areas, although Ona admitted there are some problems in distributing medicines because many devastated areas are still inaccessible at this time. He made an assurance however that the supply of medicines is more than adequate.

The President said he expects government agencies to report to him the deployment of water purifiers in the affected areas to ensure that residents are given clean supply of water.

Ramos said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is also doing price monitoring in coordination with the Philippine National Police to prevent traders from jacking up their prices.

At the same time, the government is also spearheading a “Diskuwento Caravan” on Saturday to provide the people with affordable basic necessities. The caravan is scheduled to go to New Bataan tomorrow and on December 11 it will service the municipality of Boston in Davao Oriental.

The government has tied up with manufacturers that vowed to assist affected communities by selling at discounted prices. PND (as)

Aquino orders thorough study of Mindanao devastation

President Benigno S. Aquino III ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to investigate the devastation caused by Typhoon Pablo to prevent further loss of lives in the future.

The President said during media interview at Davao International Airport that his aim is to minimize if not eliminate the large number casualties during calamities.

Typhoons, arriving in the country is a yearly occurrence and the government must have an effective disaster plan to limit the effects of typhoons to the general population, he said.

“I’d like to get to the point na sigurado ang mga Pilipino na mabibigyan siya ng timely information, meron siyang malilikasan na lugar para mailayo sa panganib, at mabawasan, kung hindi tuluyang mawala, ang mga nawawalang Pilipino kada merong natural disaster,” the President said.

In New Bataan, Compostela Valley, for instance, the President said he observed during that the town has absorbed so much water. Although there was an evacuation supposedly to safer grounds, he said the residents were relocated to low-lying ground in the foot of mountains, making them vulnerable to flashfloods.

The local government could have a better evacuation location and should chose an area on higher grounds, he said.

“We could have probably designed it na hindi ganoon ang evacuation center. But I want a concrete basis of what had happened and I want less and less dangers for the Filipinos,” he said.

In Boston, Davao Oriental, the President likened the town to an area that suffered from a nuclear attack because of the absence of remaining structures.

He proposed rebuilding the town, not exactly along the coast. Boston must be rebuilt behind the hills that will provide a natural barrier for any strong winds that might come in the future, he said.

Part of the DILG-DOJ-DENR study is geo-hazard mapping to assess which locations are vulnerable to flashfloods and landslides, the chief executive said.

There must be scientific basis in assessing future natural disturbances particularly the amount of rain falling in a particular locality, he said.

The President wants to know whether there are lapses in planning that resulted to large number of casualties in those areas. He also asked government agencies to improve the process of disseminating understandable information to the public. PND (as)

President Aquino wants centralized relief and search efforts in typhoon-affected areas

President Benigno S. Aquino III said he wants a more centralized effort in providing relief assistance to typhoons victims in Mindanao, as well as in the search and rescue of those who remain missing.

The President said the government must maximize its operations in transporting relief goods and in rescuing people who remain unaccounted. While the government cares for the survivors, it must also work to find those who were still missing, he said.

“Sa nakita kong kakulangan doon, sinabihan natin si Major General George Segovia na mag-head, mag-coordinate sa lahat ng probinsyang apektado at ang kanilang mga disaster management councils para masigurado na lahat ng communities ay naimbentaryo na natin at maitaas ‘yung probability na kung may makita tayong mga survivors ay mapuntahan ng search and rescue teams sa lalong madaling panahon,” the President said during a media interview at Davao International Airport on Friday.

“Anything made by man will always be imperfect. But that shouldn’t stop us from trying to achieve perfection. So we have deployed roughly about half of the helicopter assets of the air force to these operations,”

K-9 teams will also be arriving Saturday to assist in the search and rescue operations, the President said. The military is also repositioning its forces within Mindanao to concentrate on finding survivors, he added.

The number of missing is still very high and authorities aren’t sure whether it is the complete number because nobody has made a thorough assessment of all the affected communities, the President said.

The President visited hard-hit areas in Mindanao, particularly New Bataan in Compostela Valley and Boston town in Davao Oriental. Prior to his departure to Manila, the President was briefed in Davao about the ongoing search and relief operations by the government. PND (as)

Government to temporarily rebuild infrastructures damaged by typhoon Pablo, says President Aquino

The government targets to rebuild damaged infrastructures in typhoon-ravaged areas in Mindanao by Tuesday next week, President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Friday.

In a media interview at the Davao International Airport, the President said Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson assessed the infrastructure damage to be around P930 million.

The government’s calamity fund is over P4 billion, the chief executive said.

“I will repeat, accessible lahat by next week. Ang mga temporary na ginagawa magiging permanent. Ang major problem lang so far is CARAGA bridge because almost half of it, or half of the span is lost,” the President said.

CARAGA bridge is a 17-span bridge and because of the debris, seven panels collapsed at the height of the typhoon, the President said.

“This will be the one that will take the longest to repair, as seven of the 17 spans was damaged,” he said.

The Department of Public Works and Highways will not only replace the lost spans but will redesign the bridge higher to prevent logs and other debris from clogging the bridge, the President said.

“We will raise the elevation of the bridge to prevent a recurrence… all of the debris... in effect logs under the bridge destroyed the spans,” he said.

Repairing roads and bridges is necessary so that relief goods, water and medicines could reach isolated communities following Typhoon Pablo’s destruction. PND (as)