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
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)