Monday, 10 December 2012

PIA News Dispatch - MOnday, December 10, 2012

President Aquino orders concerned government agencies to assist Senate in hosting the 5th Global Conference of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians

 President Benigno S. Aquino III has directed the concerned government agencies to assist the Senate of the Philippines in hosting the 5th Global Conference of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) in January next year.

 The Chief Executive issued the directive by virtue of Memorandum Order (MO) No. 51 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on November 28.

 "The Congress of the Philippines, led by the Senate of the Philippines, will host the 5th Global Conference of the GOPAC in Manila on January 30 to February 2, 2013, the President said.

 He said the hosting by the Philippines of the GOPAC Conference will highlight and establish the country’s earnest determination to eliminate corruption and poverty in all fronts.

 "Section 2 of Executive Order (EO) No. 43 entitled, “Pursuing our Social Contract with the Filipino People through the Reorganization of the Cabinet Clusters” underscores the institutionalization of open, transparent, accountable and inclusive governance as one of the key result areas of the Government’s Social Contract with the Filipino People," the President stressed.

 The President said the holding of the GOPAC Conference will bring international prestige, encourage meaningful discourse and foster goodwill among parliamentarians from different countries.

 "It is essential for the Executive Department and other Government Agencies concerned to assist in the preparations for, and ensure the success of the hosting by the Philippines of the GOPAC Conference," he said.

 He directed the department secretaries/heads of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Tourism, Department of Justice, Department of Health, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Customs, Manila International Airport Authority, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) and Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) to closely coordinate with, and assist the Senate of the Philippines in the preparations for, and the actual hosting of the 5th Global Conference of the GOPAC.

 The President, likewise, directed the concerned agencies "to assist the Senate in ensuring that all the requirements for the event are attended to, and that the economic advantages of the event are maximized through a concerted and cost-effective country team approach."

 "Other departments, bureaus or offices of the government, including government-owned or –controlled corporations (GOCCs), may be called upon to render assistance as the Senate of the Philippines may deem necessary in the country’s hosting of this event," he said.

 According to the President, the funds needed by the abovementioned agencies in providing assistance to the Senate of the Philippines for the event shall be taken from their respective budgets.

 "As the main venue for the sessions and other activities of the GOPAC Conference, PICC shall attend to the necessary rehabilitation and improvement of its facilities and grounds," he said.

 Likewise, the CCP shall undertake the necessary improvements on the grounds and buildings within the CCP Complex, he said.

 The MO No. 51 shall take effect immediately. PND (js)

President Aquino cites street sweepers of Manila, Pasay and Paranaque
President Benigno S. Aquino III cited the street sweepers of Manila, Pasay and Paranaque Cities whose labor, he said, not only keeps the streets of the metropolis clean and free from debris, but also by their dedication and discipline to their job that has become the very foundation on which government reform is anchored upon.

 The President issued the citation in his speech keynoting the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation’s yearly gift-giving activity, “Bayanihan: Pamaskong Handog ng PAGCOR 2012,” this Yuletide season held at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City on Monday.

 “Magandang pagkakataon po ito upang ipaabot sa inyo ang taos puso kong pasasalamat. Sa ating masisipag na street sweepers: pinapanatili ninyong malinis ang ating mga lansangan at daluyan ng tubig upang maiwasan ang pagragasa ng baha tuwing tag-ulan; ipinapamalas ninyo ang disiplina at pananagutan sa kalakhang lipunan,” the President said.

 “Malinaw po, ang inyong pagpupunyagi ay pundasyon ng ating reporma; kabalikat kayo sa pag-a-angat ng mabubuting katangian ng lahing Pilipino. Salamat po, tunay nga pong kayo ang gumawa ng pagbabago,” he added.

 PAGCOR’s Pamaskong Handog event began in December 2010 under the initiative of the agency’s new management as part of its core commitment to reach out to the less privileged sectors of society.

 According to the President, the project aims to bring cheers and color to our less fortunate brothers’ celebration of Christmas.

 “Layunin po ng proyektong ito na bigyang kulay ang pagdiriwang ng Pasko ng ating mga kababayang mas nangangailangan. Target po nitong maabot ang walong libo at anim na raang benepisyaryo sa buong bansa, na nasa pangangalaga ng apatnapu’t isang institusyon. Kabilang sa matutulungan ng programa ang mga batang naulila, mga nakatatanda, may kapansanan, kapuspalad na mga pasyente, cultural minorities, at ang mga kasama natin ngayong araw, ang ating pong mga street sweepers,” the President said.

 Prior to his speech, the President, who was joined by PAGCOR chairman and CEO Cristino Naguiat, Jr, Pasay City Mayor Antonio Calixto, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, ParaƱaque City Mayor Florencio Bernabe, Jr, and Pasay City Representative Imelda Calixto-Rubiano, led the distribution of Noche Buena packs to some 2,000 street sweepers in attendance.

 The Noche Buena packs contained the necessary food items needed for the Christmas feast such as: spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, ham, cheese, fruit cocktail, condensed milk, all purpose cream, arroz caldo and champorado mixes.

 “Nawa’y sumapat po ang mga regalong ipinagkaloob ng PAGCOR, bilang munting pagtanaw sa inyong sakripisyo at dedikasyon sa trabaho, upang masayang mapagsaluhan ng inyong pamilya ang Noche Buena,” the President said. PND (rck)

President Aquino vows to work harder to make government an effective servant of the people
President Benigno S. Aquino III vowed to work harder to make government an effective servant of the people by implementing reforms that will rid it of graft and corruption.

 In his speech keynoting the annual gift-giving activity of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) for the less fortunate held at the Cuneta Astrodome on Monday, the President reiterated his administration’s advocacy that the government should be made for the people and not for the whims of a select few.

 He cited PAGCOR as a concrete example that through the implementation of reforms and proper management, the once favorite milking cow of the corrupt, now holds the nation’s coffers that will be used for the uplift and betterment of the people.

 “Hindi po natatapos dito ang pagsisikap nating maghandog ng biyaya sa atin pong kapwa. Patuloy po nating lilinisin ang ating pamahalaan upang epektibong makapaglingkod sa ating mamamayan. Walang alinlangan nating inaalis ang mga agiw at dumi sa sistema. Kaakibat ng pagpapanagot natin sa mga tiwali, pinabibilis din natin ang pagpapabuti sa kapakanan ng mas nakakarami,” the President said.

 “Ang gusto po natin: ang inyong sipag at sakripisyo ay may katumbas na pag-asenso. Bawat patak ng pawis sa maghapong paghahanap-buhay sa katirikan ng araw; bawat metrong tinatahak upang matiyak ang kalinisan sa kapaligiran; bawa't puso na ‘di alintana ang peligro sa kalsada; ay may katumbas na kapanatagan ng loob na mabigyan ng magandang kinabukasan ang inyong pamilya,” he added. PND (rck)

Malacanang says DSWD has started constructing bunkhouses in hardest hit areas of Region XI
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) started constructing on Monday some 63 bunkhouses in the hardest hit municipalities of Compostela Valley, as part of the government's efforts to provide temporarily shelter to the displaced victims of typhoon "Pablo," a Palace official said.

 "To further complement relief operations, the DPWH will construct today 63 bunkhouses in the hardest hit municipalities of Banganga, Boston, and Cateel in Davao Oriental and New Bataan in Compostela Valley," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a statement during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Monday.

 Lacierda said each bunkhouse will provide shelter for 10 families as rehabilitation efforts begin in their respective towns.

 The government strengthened its disaster response operations to find and rescue the missing residents in the disaster-affected areas in Mindanao following the devastation wrought by typhoon "Pablo."

 Lacierda said two Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) vessels have been deployed to conduct search and rescue as well as relief operations in the province of Davao Oriental.

 "The SARV-3504 has successfully completed its second trip which transported relief goods and response personnel to the municipality of Banganga and ferried 42 residents of the Municipality of Banganga to Mati City, the provincial capital," he said.

 "The said vessel is now on standby for a third trip. Another vessel, the SARV-003, is now moored at Sasa Wharf in Davao City. It will be deployed to augment SARV-3504 after refueling," the Presidentail Spokesman said.

 "Three patrol boats of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources manned by PCG personnel have been organized as a Task Force for the search and rescue of fishermen at sea. The MCS-3009 is already conducting operations in the area while two more vessels (MCS-2004 and MCS-3005) will be dispatched from the port of Mati tonight to augment the effort," he noted.

 Citing a report by Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio "Jun" Abaya, Lacierda said 20 fishermen have been rescued, five bodies were recovered, and 310 remain unaccounted for.

 In support of the Department of Transportation and Communications -Philippine Coast Guard (DOTC-PCG) efforts, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has been continuously assessing the situation in Regions 11, 13 and 7 to facilitate the delivery of national government assistance.

 Upon the directive of Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas, Lacierda said the local government unit of Mati is facilitating the release of its calamity fund for the hiring of all available large local fishing boats for the immediate transfer of goods from Mati City to the affected areas in Davao Oriental.

 "The Philippine National Police regional offices in Mindanao are also on full alert status and its investigation units have been mobilized to assist LGUs and the Department of Trade and Industry to monitor market conditions for price control violations and unfair trade practices," Lacierda stressed.

 As early as December 2, Lacierda said the DILG had already ordered the reactivation of Local Disaster Risk Response and Management Councils in preparation for the impact of Typhoon Pablo, particularly in the National Capital Region, as well as Regions 4 to 13 and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

 "In addition, we welcome the efforts of TV5 and Mr. Manny Pangilinan for a telethon this evening to raise 100 million pesos for the victims of Typhoon Pablo," he said.

 The government, likewise, urged the public to support the private sector initiatives of ABS-CBN’s Sagip Kapamilya and GMA’s Kapuso Foundation, Lacierda said.

 Both the national government and the private sector are at the forefront of humanitarian efforts in areas affected by this recent calamity, he said.

 "We call on all Filipinos to continue being of service to our countrymen most in need, knowing fully well that together we will persist and we shall overcome these difficult times," he said. PND (js)

Aquino government devising options to address concerns of farmers, fisherfolks and indigenous people in Casiguran, Aurora province
The Aquino administration is devising options to address the concerns of the farmers, fisher folks and indigenous people (IPs) who claimed that their livelihood was affected by the operations of the Aurora Pacific Ecozone and Freeport (APECO), a Palace official said on Monday.

 Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Monday that the concerned government agencies have already convened to discuss the concerns of the farmers, fisher folks and IPs from the Casiguran town in Aurora.

 "The Cabinet has been meeting on the concerns of the APECO fisher folk and farmers. The Cabinet officials concerned are Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr., the Chief of the Presidential Management Staff, Secretary Julia Abad, the (Secretaries of the) Department of Agriculture (Proceso Alcala Jr), Department of Agrarian Reform (Virgilio de los Reyes), the (National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ramon Carandang, and Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras," Lacierda said.

 "They have studied the matter and they will be discussing some options which take into consideration the farmers’ welfare. So these options will be presented to the President. We have not discussed whether the President will meet with them but certainly the Cabinet has been discussing and, at the very least, some Cabinet officials will be meeting with them," he said.

 Lacierda assured that the government started taking steps aimed at addressing the concerns of the communities in Casiguran.

 "Paramount is the farmers’ welfare. That is something that they discussed during the Cabinet meeting," he said adding that the options will be discussed with the President.

 The farmers, fisherfolks and IPs have been seeking an audience with President Benigno S. Aquino III to raise their concerns over the APECO’s alleged disastrous impact on their communities.

 They said APECO violated the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program and Extension and Reform law, Fisheries Code, Indigenous Peoples Right Act, and Government Auditing Code and Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

 The APECO was established by virtue of Republic Act No. 9490, otherwise known as the Aurora Special Economic Zone Act of 2007. The law aims to convert a 12,923-hectare area in Casiguran into a self-sustaining industrial, commercial, financial, and recreational center.

 The law was also passed to create employment opportunities around Casiguran, and to effectively encourage and attract legitimate and productive local and foreign investments.

 However, the communities in Casiguran voiced out their opposition to APECO because it actually threatened their livelihood. PND (js)

Aquino government continues to provide assistance to banana farmers to ensure country’s banana production
The Aquino government continues to help the country's banana farmers in a bid to ensure the sustainability of banana production amid the global demand for the commodity, a Palace official said on Monday.

 Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Monday that the government continues to provide assistance to banana farmers to ensure that there would be enough production of banana for export.

 "Certainly we are assisting banana farmers especially now that our situation with China has been resolved. And definitely the Department of Agriculture will be on top of ensuring that there would be sufficient banana production," Lacierda said.

 The Philippines is one of the world’s top banana exporters with much of the fruits being grown in Mindanao. Among its major markets include Japan, South Korea, People's Republic of China and New Zealand. In 2010, the total export earnings from fresh Cavendish bananas amounted to $720 million.

 The PROC is the country’s second biggest export market for bananas next to Japan. PND (js)

Aquino government urges private companies, citizens to lend helicopters for ongoing relief operations in Mindanao
The Aquino government called on companies and individuals to lend private helicopters to help the ongoing relief operations in Mindanao following the devastation wrought by typhoon "Pablo," a Palace official said on Monday.

 In a statement issued on Monday, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin has asked the private sector to augment government efforts in delivering relief to the typhoon-affected provinces.

 "In keeping with the tradition of private sector involvement in humanitarian efforts following calamities, we call on companies and individuals to coordinate with the Eastern Mindanao Command for the use of private helicopters to transport much-needed relief goods and resources to afflicted provinces at the soonest possible time. The Eastern Mindanao Command may be contacted via 09176201980," Lacierda said.

 General Jorge Segovia of the Eastern Mindanao Command has been tasked by the President to be the Ground Commander of the search and rescue operations in the hardest-hit areas in the wake of Typhoon Pablo, Lacierda said.

 He also said that the Department of Social Welfare and Development is taking the lead for relief operations.

 "General Segovia and the troops under his command have tirelessly worked for the betterment of our countrymen in Mindanao in the wake of this calamity. Theirs is an example of heroism that we call on others to emulate," Lacierda noted.

 "The work continues and hope remains strong as we relieve, rebuild, and restore stricken communities in the south. With the civilian and uniformed services of the government and the private sector working together as one, we shall overcome," he said. PND (js)

Aquino administration has implemented various initiatives to uphold human rights in the country, says Malacanang
The Aquino administration has implemented various initiatives to uphold the human rights of every individual, a Palace official said on Monday.

 In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda laid out these initiatives since President Benigno S. Aquino III assumed office on June 30, 2010.

 The Armed Forces of the Philippines launched its Human Rights/International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Handbook as part of the government’s effort to institutionalize human rights concepts in August, 2010. The handbook serves as a soldiers’ guide during the conduct of operations.

 The freeing of the so-called Morong 43 in December, 2010 was another significant development that occurred during the tenure of President Aquino. The Morong 43 is a group of 43 health workers in the Philippines accused of cooperating with the New People's Army in efforts to destabilize the government.

 "The President ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to withdraw the information filed before the court, which, in effect and subject to court approval, freed the 43, as they who have no other standing warrants in other courts," Lacierda said.

 Lacierda quoted President Aquino as saying that “human rights has to be universal, has to be for everyone. When one’s rights are violated, you set the groundwork for violating everybody’s rights—so all includes our security forces, our peasantry, those below the poverty line, and those who have more in this life."

 In December, 2010, the AFP has established the Human Rights Office which serves as the main platform for addressing all human rights and international humanitarian law issues involving the Armed Forces. The recent designation of General Domingo Tutaan as head of the office has further strengthened its capabilities, Lacierda said.

 The Philippine National Police has also crafted a Human Rights Desk Operations Manual in December 2010. The manual provides information and operational procedures to police personnel manning the PNP Human Rights Desks.

 "Handbooks have also been prepared for regional police offices and media organizations as guides in light of the risks they face in the conduct of their duties," he added.

 On December 10, 2010, the DOJ created a Special Task Force on Extrajudicial Killings and Enforced Disappearances the Special Task Force is mandated to review all reported and unresolved cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances and recommend measures for and cause the effective and expeditious investigation and prosecution of the cases.

 The task force is also mandated to speed up the prosecution and resolution of cases with sufficient evidence and cause the reopening of investigations of “cold file” cases.

 "In the U.S. State Department's 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report, the Philippines has been upgraded to Tier 2 ," Lacierda said, adding that the upgrade can be attributed to the initiatives of the Philippine government in addressing human trafficking.

 "The DOJ has achieved a total of 74 convictions (cases) of Illegal Recruitment involving 89 persons since 2003, with 45 convictions (61 percent of all convictions secured) recorded during the Aquino Administration," Lacierda stressed.

 The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) assisted all 2,082 victims of trafficking who sought help from the government from January 2010 to March 2012. The department provided 1,067 victims with community-based services including rescue, counseling, financial assistance, skills training, auxiliary services, temporary shelter, and legal assistance through the Recovery and Reintegration Program for Trafficked Persons.

 The DSWD likewise assisted the other 1,015 victims through residential care centers/institutions such as the Haven for Women and Children.

 In June, 2012, the PNP-Task Force USIG has recorded 41 validated cases of slain media practitioners and 125 validated cases of slain activists since 2001. "Of these cases, 103 have been filed in court, 62 are under investigation, and one case has been dropped due to the demise of the suspect," he said.

 In November 2012, President Aquino signed Administrative Order No. 35, creating the Inter-agency committee on extra-legal killing, enforced disappearances, torture and other grave violations of the right to life and security of persons.

 The inter-agency committee is tasked to conduct an inventory of all human rights violations perpetrated by state and non-state forces and to prioritize the unsolved cases for action, and assign special investigation teams to conduct further investigation on these cases for the possible identification of the perpetrators.

 The committee is also mandated to monitor and report cases under investigation, preliminary investigation and trial and investigate and prosecute new cases.

 "Every six months, the Committee shall submit a report to the President detailing its progress, accomplishment, as well as their recommendations," Lacierda said. PND (js)

Aquino government welcomes approval of Sin Tax bill in Bicameral Conference Committee of Congress
The Aquino administration welcomed the approval of the Sin Tax bill in the Bicameral Conference Committee of Congress, a Palace official said.

 "With the approval of the bicameral conference committee, Congress has taken a very important step in approving a reconciled version of the Sin Tax Bill. The reconciled version adheres closely to the administration sponsored bill as it contains only two-tiers for taxes on cigarettes and reflects current prices instead of 1997 rates," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a statement issued on Monday.

 "This is a significant reform that raises revenues for government’s healthcare programs that will expand and strengthen social safety nets for millions of Filipinos," he said.

 Lacierda said the Sin Tax bill also levels the playing field for the tobacco industry by providing a more equitable taxation regime for all industry players.

 The Aquino administration commended the leadership of Senator Franklin M. Drilon, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales II, and Representative Isidro Ungab, for their unwavering leadership on the said bill, Lacierda stressed.

 "Their commitment to the passage of this crucial reform was strengthened by the constant support of the President who certified the bill as urgent, as well as countless advocates in the bureaucracy and civil society," he noted

 "We look forward to the ratification of this bill, which the President is gladly looking forward to sign into law," he said. PND (js)