Sunday, 20 January 2013

PIA News Dispatch - Saturday, January 19, 2013

Govt to carry out the law as a response to Tubbataha Reefs incident, Palace says

Malacanang said on Saturday that the Philippine government will observe the law protecting the Tubbataha Reefs after a US Navy minesweeper apparently damaged the area after running aground Thursday.

“There are laws that we have to implement... and it is a World Heritage site, titingnan natin what the investigation of concerned agencies will yield, kung ano ang magiging recommendations nila and then, we move forward with the guidance of what the law provides,” Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview over government-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan Saturday.

The Palace official was responding to questions by reporters on how the Philippine government would respond to the situation.

A legislator wants the US government to explain Thursday’s incident and to know why the US Navy ship was inside the Philippine jurisdiction.

Valte said concerned agencies will be conducting its own investigation on how the USS Guardian ended up along the Tubbataha Reefs.

"We have to find out muna ’yung mga circumstances. As I mentioned yesterday, the primary concern is extricating the ship out of the reef with minimal damage. Hindi pa natin makikita ang extent ng damage hanggang matanggal ito at makababa ang mga divers natin doon to check.”

Reports said around 10 meters of corals were damage by the minesweeper but Valte said it was just an estimate and no one can figure out the extent of the damage until divers are dispatched to assess the situation.

Local authorities said the government imposes a fine of about $300 per square meter of damaged coral. A similar incident happened in 2005 when a Greenpeace flagship struck a reef. The environment group paid almost $7,000 for the damage.

Most of the US sailors left the USS Guardian for safety reasons after initial efforts to free the vessel failed, the US Navy’s 7th Fleet said in a statement on Friday.

A small team of US Navy officers would remain on board to try to extricate the USS Guardian with as little damage to environment as possible, the statement noted.

The 68-meter long minesweeper ran aground Thursday while in transit through the marine park. Philippine authorities said there were no injuries or oil leaks, adding they are trying to evaluate the damage to the protected coral reefs.

The Tubbataha Reefs, designated by Unesco as a World Heritage Site in 1992, provides an important habitat for internationally threatened and endangered marine species.

The reefs support many species of corals, cetaceans, sharks, and fishes. PND (as)

Aquino to attend World Economic Forum Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, next week

President Benigno S. Aquino III will join the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, on January 23 to 26 that aims to facilitate global, regional and industry transformation.

President Aquino, along with his official delegation, will depart on Wednesday evening to join the other Heads of State and the world business leaders to attend the annual meeting.

The Chief Executive will be joined by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Budget Secretary Butch Abad, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Secretary to the Cabinet Rene Almendras and Communications Secretary Ramon Carandang.

During his visit to Davos, President Aquino will have an opportunity to interact with other heads of state and business leaders as well and share with them the country’s economic achievements.

“Among the events that the President will be attending in Davos is the informal gathering of world economic leaders, which will pave the way for a discussion on global economic issues with other world leaders (who) have also been invited,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan Saturday.

Valte said the President is also scheduled to deliver a keynote speech at the World Economic Forum's Partnering Against Corruption event, where the Philippine leader will share the country’s experience in battling corruption.

“President Aquino will have the opportunity to meet and to discuss issues with global business leaders as part of our continuing pitch that the Philippines is under new management and that we are open for business,” the Deputy Spokesperson said.

“There will be other opportunities for the President also to share what we have been doing, given that the Philippine economy has so far been surpassing expectations in light of the global economic slowdown that is happening in so many other economies,” she said.

The Deputy Spokesperson also said that President Aquino will also meet the Filipino Community in Zurich on January 26 before his return to Manila. PND (co)

NEDA Board approves five development projects

The National Economic and Development Authority Board has approved several major infrastructure and anti-poverty projects during its meeting on Friday. President Benigno S. Aquino III chairs the NEDA Board.

Among the approved projects during the board meeting include the Cavite-Laguna Expressway (CALAX Project), P35.57 billion; NLEX-SLEX Connector Road Project, P25.55 billion; and Adapting to Climate Change through the Construction of Water Impounding Facilities in the Philippines: Pasa Small Reservoir Irrigation Project (Pasa SRIP).

The projects are funded by official development assistance that costs P935.6 million and local government fund worth P93.41 million. The projects have a total project cost of P1.029 billion.

Other approved projects include the Proposed Change in Scope of Second Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resources Management Project (CHARMP II); P2.94 billion, Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Service (KALAHI-CIDSS) National Community Driven Development Project, P81.9 billion. PND (as)