Sunday, 20 January 2013

PIA News Dispatch - Friday, January 18, 2013

Aquino appoints new officials in government agencies and judiciary

President Benigno S. Aquino III has appointed new officials in the government agencies and judiciary, a Palace official said.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte announced the appointments during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Friday.

The Chief Executive signed the appointment letter of Jose Z. Grageda as Acting Undersecretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform, replacing Narciso B. Nieto.

President Aquino, likewise, appointed Janice F. Santos as Assistant Secretary of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.

The President named Jose Mari M. Oquiñena as Acting Director-General of the Philippine Information Agency, which is under the Presidential Communications Operations Office, replacing Jose A. Fabia and Allan B. Gepty as Deputy Director General of the Intellectual Property Office of the Department of Trade and Industry.

The other presidential appointees are as follows:

- Judge Leah de los Reyes Baguyo as presiding judge of the Puerto Princesa, Palawan Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 48,

- Judge Ambrosio B. de Luna as presiding judge of the Puerto Princesa, Palawan RTC Branch 51,

- Judge Beatrice Alvarez Medina as presiding judge of the San Mateo, Rizal RTC Branch 75,

- Judge Luvina Padolina Roque as presiding judge of the San Pablo City, Laguna RTC Branch 29,

- Judge Napoleon Matienzo as presiding judge of the Gumaca, Quezon RTC Branch 62,

- Judge Maria Christine Isabel Z. Falguera-Guerrero as presiding judge of the San Pablo City, Laguna Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch 2,

- Judge Rean G. Arizala-Joaquin as presiding judge of the San Pablo City, Laguna Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch 3,

- Judge Mederlyn P. Mangalindan as presiding judge of the Cavite City Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch 1,

- Judge Melinda B. Mantilla as presiding judge of Claver-Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte, 4th Municipal Circuit Trial Court,

- Judge Ronilo A. Beronio as presiding judge of the Roxas-Cagayancillo, Palawan Municipal Circuit Trial Court,

- Judge Eric S. Fortaleza as presiding judge of the Sta. Cruz, Laguna Municipal Trial Court,

-Judge Crisostomo J. Dañguilan as presiding judge of the Cabuyao, Laguna Municipal Trial Court,

- Judge Katherine C. Jambaro-Altubar as presiding judge of the Angono, Rizal Municipal Trial Court, and

- Edward M. Togonon as Prosecutor V, Office of the City Prosecutor- Manila, National Prosecution Service under the Department of Justice. PND (js)

PAOCC official appears at NBI probe

An official of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) on Friday appeared before the National Bureau of Investigation to give a statement about the Atimonan shooting incident.

Chief Supt. Reginald Villasanta, PAOCC executive director, told the NBI investigating team that the Commission did not approve the plan for police operation that led to the death of 13 people, including a known jueteng operator.

“We at PAOCC, through a board resolution, did not approve Case Operation Plan Armado (COPLAN Armado) submitted by Police Superintendent Hansel Marantan, Police Superintendent Glenn Dumlao and Chief Supt. James Melad,” Villasanta said in a statement.

Villasanta said he went to the NBI to fulfill PAOCC’s commitment to cooperate with the bureau “in the interest of shedding light into the events that led to the Atimonan incident.”

“I met with NBI officials and provided them with information we hope will help them arrive at the truth regarding the incident in Quezon,” he said.

According to Villasanta, the PAOCC board did not reach the point of approving the COPLAN because its proponents had yet to comply with certain requirements.

At the time when the proposal was given to the PAOCC, there were other cases pending with the Commission which were considered a priority.

Villasanta cited a portion in the resolution issued last November stating that “the Board put the approval of COPLAN Armado in abeyance pending compliance with aforementioned requirements.”

“It is clear from the Resolution that the COPLAN was never approved by any official at the Executive Director’s level or higher,” Villasanta pointed out.

He added: “The COPLAN was not approved because it lacked the documentation required for us to properly assess the viability and feasibility of the operation, such as a memo directive or endorsement from the mother unit, timetable, and information we needed regarding the agents involved and the subjects of the investigation.”

Villasanta said that among the directives of the resolution was the release of P100,000 to Marantan’s group to help them in building an airtight case against their targets.

“Bilang paglilinaw po, ang ibinigay na pondo ay para lamang gamitin nila sa pagkalap ng impormasyon upang mapagtibay ang kanilang inihaing COPLAN,” he explained.

The PAOCC official also clarified that the amount released to the COPLAN proponents was “only for intelligence purposes; it was not intended for operations.”

Villasanta also explained to the investigating team the nature of PAOCC’s work, which is “to provide support to different law enforcement agencies in terms of technical, legal and financial assistance to sustain the government's efforts to go after and neutralize organized armed groups.”

“The Commission makes decisions at the policy level, and is not designed to be involved in actual operations," he added.

Palace says govt ready to assist Filipinos involved in Algerian hostage crisis

Malacanang said on Friday that it is ready to extend full assistance to Filipinos involved in the kidnapping incident in Algeria adding the priority of the government is to secure Filipinos in that country.

In a press conference in Malacanang, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said they received information that there casualties in the ongoing military operations in Algeria following this week’s kidnapping incident. Some of those killed were Filipinos, the reports said.

The Palace official however said the Philippine post in Tripoli, Libya, with jurisdiction over Algeria, is still verifying the report.

“After we are able to confirm if indeed some of the casualties were Filipino nationals, the post in Tripoli will be working to get their immediate details to determine their status in that particular country so we can extend all the assistance that is necessary to them and to their loved ones,” Valte said.

“That involves notification or assistance for repatriation if their employers are not on hand to do it. We are ready to extend the full assistance,” she added.

It was reported that two Filipinos died in the Algerian hostage incident. Valte said the Palace is waiting for reports from the Department of Foreign Affairs who has tasked its post in Tripoli to verify the incident.

As some governments have expressed their concerns over how Algerian government handled the situation, reporters asked Valte if the Philippines will join other countries push an inquiry to know how the operations were done.

Valte said that at present, the primary concern of the government is to verify the status of the Filipino nationals who were part of the hostage-taking incident.

Asked if the Philippine government advised Filipinos in Algeria to stay indoors to remain safe, Valte said such precaution would be part of the assessment that will be made by the DFA.

“We will leave it up to the post and to the DFA to come up with a recommendation whether they will ask the Filipinos there to avoid unnecessary travel at the moment,” she said.

This week, Islamist militants abducted an undetermined number of hostages including Westerners at a gas plant in a remote section of Algeria.

The Cable News Network (CNN) reported that Algerian forces launched military operations upon noticing that the kidnappers have started to move their hostages toward a neighboring country.

Numerous casualties were reported following Thursday’s military operation by the Algerian forces. Reports said the offensive is continuing on Friday to free the remaining hostages. PND (as)

Pres. Aquino declares Jan. 23 as ‘Araw ng Republikang Filipino, 1899’

President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared January 23 of every year as “Araw ng Republikang Filipino, 1899” to commemorate the inauguration of the First Philippine Republic, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. announced on Friday.

Ochoa said Proclamation No. 533, which the President signed on January 9, aims to promote awareness, especially among the youth, on the significance of this chapter in Philippine history that marked the culmination of the Philippine revolution against Spanish rule.

“The Malolos Constitution was promulgated on January 21, 1899 and two days later, on January 23, 1899, the First Philippine Republic, also known as the Malolos Republic, was inaugurated at Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan. This made the Philippines the first independent republic in Asia—a significant milestone we should all take pride in,” Ochoa said.

Malacanang had earlier issued a related issuance, Proclamation No. 523, declaring January 23 this year a special non-working holiday in Bulacan.

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines endorsed the issuance of this directive on the request of Malolos Mayor Christian Natividad.