Sunday, 13 January 2013

PIA News Dispatch - Friday, January 11, 2013

President Aquino appoints Alfredo Benjamin Sabater-Caguioa as the new Chief Presidential Legal Counsel

President Benigno S. Aquino III has appointed Alfredo Benjamin Sabater-Caguioa as the new Chief Presidential Legal Counsel.

In his transmittal letter dated January 10, 2013, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said the Chief Executive signed the appointment letter of Caguioa, replacing Eduardo V. de Mesa.

Caguioa's term of office is co-terminus with the appointing authority.

Caguioa graduated Bachelor of Arts (AB Economics) from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1981. He obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1985 and was admitted to the Bar in 1986.

He is a well-respected and highly-regarded litigation practitioner with 25 years experience in commercial, civil and criminal litigations before courts of all levels.

A senior partner at the Caguioa and Gatmaytan and Associates law firm, Caguioa taught Obligation and Contracts, Property, Statutory Construction and Administrative Law at the Ateneo de Manila University School of Law and San Sebastian College of Law. He also served as lecturer and resource lecturer at the University of the Philippines Law Centre, Institute of Government and Law Reform from 2003 until 2006.

He also served as associate member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in 2005. Founded in 1915, The Institute is registered as a charity institution in the United Kingdom, and has approximately 11,000 members across more than 100 countries.

It is a center for global promotion, facilitation and development of all forms of dispute resolution. PND (js)

President Aquino leads Vin d’Honneur in Malacanang

President Benigno S. Aquino III hosted Friday morning in Malacanang the traditional Vin d’Honneur expressing his optimism for a fruitful 2013.

In his message, the President said 2012 was a good year for the Filipinos as the government posted economic growth that surpassed expectations.

Among the major achievements include the signing of a peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the restoration of public confidence in the country’s judiciary.

The President said that while the year 2012 would be a difficult year to match, given all what the government had achieved, there are plenty of reasons to greet 2013 with optimism.

He expects to sustain the momentum set by his administration in two and a half years hoping that this will continue to yield positive results for the country and the Asian region.

“Though many challenges confront us, we know that, with the Filipino people on our side and with the support of partners overseas, we can make greater strides,” he stressed.

At the same time, the Chief Executive thanked the members of the international community for continually demonstrating their solidarity with the Filipino people especially during times of calamity and disaster.

“We thank those who have placed their trust in the collective capabilities of our people, those who have invested and continue to find reasons to invest in our nation and in our people,” he said.

And to the countries that have welcomed Filipinos abroad and to those who continue to work with the Philippine government, the President extended his gratitude and pledged to deepen that partnership for equitable prosperity.

The Vin d’Honneur is an annual traditional reception hosted by the President at Malacanang Palace to mark the New Year.

As with many official traditions, the practice of an official reception to mark the New Year dates back to the colonial period.

In the past, Vin d’Honneur was quite a social event. It is a traditional “open house” being an opportunity for high government officials, former presidential families, members of Congress, the judiciary, the diplomatic corps, and business and social circles to mingle freely and relatively informally in the Palace.

After the EDSA Revolution, the traditional New Year’s reception was continued, but came to be known from the administration of President Corazon C. Aquino onward, as a Vin d’honneur.

The term comes from the French practice, which means “wine of honor.” It traditionally takes place at the end of inaugurations, speeches, and ceremonies that mark the social life of the French provinces.

In the Philippines, Vin d’Honneur has come to be considered primarily a diplomatic event, which features a toast exchanged between the President of the Philippines and the Papal Nuncio, who is the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps.

This year’s Vin d’Honneur marks the 26th New Year’s reception since the EDSA Revolution (the first one took place in 1987). PND (as)

Deadly Quezon operation no Palace backing, Ochoa says

Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. debunked a newspaper report saying that the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), which he headed, sanctioned the deadly Quezon operation during the weekend.

Sunday’s police-military operation in Atimonan, Quezon resulted to the killing of 13 individuals claimed by the police as gun-for-hires.

“I wish to point out though that a news report saying that the Palace okayed the operation is completely erroneous,” Ochoa said in a statement on Friday.

“The operations plan that was cited in the Inquirer report is a confidential proposal that was not approved,” he stressed.

Ochoa also said he has directed the PAOCC personnel to fully cooperate with authorities investigating the matter to get to the bottom of the incident.

“I share the concern of those who seek clarifications regarding the circumstances that led to the loss of lives, and I am confident that the inquiry to be conducted by the NBI will help produce an accurate account of the events surrounding the shootout,” he said.

A Philippine Daily Inquirer report said the Quezon incident that left 13 people dead was the culmination of a three-month police operation approved by the PAOCC headed by Ochoa.

The report said the operation, code-named “Coplan Armado,” targeted Victor “Vic” Siman, the operator of the numbers racket “jueteng” disguised as government-sanctioned Small Town Lottery (STL) in Laguna and Batangas provinces in southern Luzon. Siman was among the fatalities during Sunday’s encounter.

The objective is to “neutralize Siman’s group through extensive police operations and meticulous intelligence gathering. There are 15 targets in the coplan, according to the report, noting that six of them from Batangas and the rest from Laguna province. PND (as)

Aquino vows continuous fight against graft and corruption

President Benigno S. Aquino III said relentless efforts against graft and corruption will continue and government agencies perceived to be corrupt “will get a very severe jolt.”

During the annual Station Managers Conference of the Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) with President Aquino on Thursday in Malacanang, the President said he wants to show that his administration is serious in fighting corruption.

“We are preparing the necessary actions. I cannot go into details right now. Baka mahirapan ang ating prosecutors ‘pag lalo pa nilang naitago ‘yung ebidensya,” the President said referring to corrupt government agencies.

“Hindi na kami nagbibiro, talaga na pinakikiusapan na sumama sa tuwid na landas. Mukhang talagang feeling nila ay kaya nila kaming suwayin at ituloy ang kanilang maling mga kilusan. Ipakikita namin sa kanilang nagkakamali sila,” he added.

The President also belied reports that the government efforts to fight graft and corruption haven’t trickled down to the lower levels of the bureaucracy.

He cited for instance the Land Transportation Office (LTO), which in the past had so many fixers that victimized the public. He said the LTO is now being praised for its better service in the absence of fixers.

The President also said that a recent ranking by the Transparency International put the Philippines at a better status in terms of diminishing corruption.

This jump in ranking is substantial, the President said as he assured that his administration will work harder to achieve even better results in the future. PND (as)

President Aquino says his administration remains committed to reinforce the agricultural sector; vows to raise productivity and profitability of country's farms

President Benigno S. Aquino III said the government stands behind the initiatives of the Department of Agriculture and other concerned government agencies to raise productivity and profitability of the country's farms.

The Chief Executive said, in an interview with the Radio Mindanao Network on Thursday, that his administration remains committed to reinforce the agricultural sector.

"Ang focus kasi natin: Paano tayo makakatulong doon sa farmer? ‘Yung isa sa mga concepts ni (Agriculture) Secretary (Proceso) Alcala, ‘yung farmer at saka ang consumer natin nang mas diretsuhan, tanggalin natin ang middleman; lalakas ang kita ng farmer; bababa ang presyo para sa consumer; so darami ang ‘Tindahan ng Bayan’ o ‘Bagsakan ng Bayan’, ang tawag nila," the President said.

Reducing hunger and poverty is among the cornerstones of the Aquino administration’s agenda. President Aquino noted adding that his government is determined to achieve these goals through innovations that would reinforce the country's agricultural sector.

"We are studying two proposals here: one is the cold storage chain and basically hinahabol na mabenta sa merkado ang mga produkto at a timely manner," he said.

"Tapos may PPP (Public-Private Partnership) na tinitingnan, pangalawa is called the ‘grains central project’. It establishes post-harvest processing and trucking centers to improve the quality of agricultural produce," he said.

The project involves the rehabilitation, upgrading, expansion and operation of existing Post-Harvest Processing and Trading Centers (PHPTCs) that are currently managed and operated by the National Agribusiness Corporation. It also involves the integration of 41 village-type PHPTCs and the possible construction and establishment of green-field PHPTCs.

"Ibig sabihin merong naghahanap kunwari ng kape. Itong central trucking na ito sasabihin kung nasaan available ‘yung kape. Ili-link natin ang namimili at saka ang source..... So imbes na naghahanapan ang buyer at saka ang seller, pinag-uugnay na natin, he said. PND (js)

President Aquino says government serious in fighting illegal drugs; vows to go after illicit drug manufacturers

President Benigno S. Aquino III expressed Thursday his renewed commitment to fight illegal drugs in the country by going after illicit drug manufacturers and at the same time rehabilitating drug users.

The President acknowledged that the illegal substances now come from different fronts and the traditional sources have disappeared.

“The threat is coming from so many fronts. Wala na ang mga traditional sources. Maraming sources ngayon kung saan-saan and from both the northern and the southern hemispheres,” he said during an interview with the Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) on Thursday.

“Huwag nating kalimutan na worldwide ang problema, ano. I can’t go into some of the details dahil ongoing ang operations. But, syempre, hahabulin natin na matigil ‘yung supply; pipilitin natin na ma-rehabilitate ang users; at saka talagang mas istrikto tayo na wala na ang pagbibigyan,” he added.

President Aquino also suggested changing the law for it to conform to the current conditions. For instance, legislators must consider making it automatic for users to spend time in the rehabilitation centers. Their rehabilitation must also be monitored to know whether they are backsliding or progressing.

Based on his instructions, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Department of Health (DOH) will study a rehabilitation program which is appropriate for shabu users, the preferred drug of choice among users.

The Chief Executive also said he expects a lot from PDEA chief Gen. Arturo Cacdac to do a successful fight against illegal drugs in the country.

To improve PDEA’s anti-illegal drug campaign, the President said, he approved the release of additional budget for the anti-illegal narcotics agency.

The Philippine Coast Guard, which has been running an effective dog breeding program intended for anti-terrorism and illegal drugs will also supply PDEA with canines to be used in the anti-narcotics campaign, the President said. PND (as)

President Aquino says government expected to post higher foreign direct investments this year

President Benigno S. Aquino III said his government expects to post higher foreign direct investments this year as more investors from Australia, United States and Europe are visiting the country to explore investment opportunities.

The Chief Executive said, in an interview with the dzXL-Radio Mindanao Network on Thursday, that the Philippines remains globally competitive in attracting foreign investments.

"We just inaugurated ‘yung planta ng B/E Aerospace that deals with galleys in airplanes, seats, lavatories, etcetera. They just inaugurated their plant—the first outside North America in Europe—in Santo Tomas, Batangas," President Aquino said.

"Austal, a ship-building company based in Australia, is expanding their facilities in Cebu," he said.

The President said a consumer goods company is also putting up another plant in the country.

"Among the biggest players that have really brought in a lot, ‘yung NestlĂ© inaugurated again their third plant—one is in Cagayan de Oro, the other one is in Batangas," he said.

President Aquino said that prospects are also bright with the country’s business process outsourcing.

"A BPO firm called Excel based in New York is expanding their third site again in Cebu. ‘Yung BPO industry is expanding exponentially throughout the county not just in the urban centers of Manila and Cebu," he said.

"So currently we have about 700,000 direct employees already. By 2016, we expect that to be 1.2 million direct employees tapos imu-multiply mo ng three at ‘yung figure na ‘yon ia-add mo doon sa 1.2 (million) it will give you the total number of people working directly or indirectly because of the BPO industry," he said. PND (js)

Aquino: Govt to incarcerate offenders to effectively fight crime

Putting criminals behind bars will be the government’s major thrust in fighting crime in the country, President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Thursday.

While it’s difficult for the government to solve all the crimes happening in the country, the President vowed not to stop looking for measures to stop various offenses and to jail offenders.

“Nalaman mo, nahuli mo, nakasuhan mo, nakulong. Sa akin ang endpoint ‘yung ‘kulong’ so ‘yun ang tinatrabaho natin,” the President said during the annual Station Managers Conference of the Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) on Thursday in Malacanang.

“We’re working with the judiciary na mapapaspasan ‘yung proseso kung saan ‘pag nadakip, matibay ang ebidensya, makulong nang diretsuhan. Kailangan ‘pag may ginawa kang krimen merong katiyakan na makukulong ka. So nandito na tayo sa first step na nahuhuli; ‘yung next step na lang na nakukulong,” he added.

The president also said he doesn’t impose deadlines on the police to avoid investigation done in haste that produce wrong suspects. The police must produce strong evidence, and with the cooperation of the judiciary, prosecutors can ensure that criminals go to jail, he said.

But it is disheartening to see media reports saying the peace and order situation in the country is getting worse when in fact some of these cases are isolated and contrary to the declining criminality figures in the country, he said.

Other measures to fight crime include going after private armed groups, the President said.

He reported that 123 members of private armed groups have either been arrested or have surrendered to the police. PND (as)