Wednesday, 23 January 2013

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, January 22, 2013

President Aquino welcomes ABAC representatives to Malacañang

President Benigno S. Aquino III played host to visiting representatives of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC) by personally welcoming them to Malacañang Palace on Monday night.

Joining the President were Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Communication Development and Strategic Planning Secretary Ramon Carandang, Presidential Management Staff Chief Julia Abad and Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras.

The ABAC representatives, who numbered close to 54 and represented the 21 APEC member countries, included ABAC Philippines members Doris Magsaysay Ho, Tony Tan Caktiong, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and Guillermo Luz.

In his welcome remarks, Almendras said the meeting showed the Philippines’ intent to be a responsible member of APEC and was appropriate as the country’s economy was on the upswing owing to the President’s reforms to improve governance through weeding out graft and corruption in government.

“The gathering we now have here is an assurance of the Philippines’ intent to fully cooperate and be a responsible member of APEC and the global economy,” Almendras said.

“Not only is this venue ideal, but the timing is more than appropriate considering the economic prosperity the country is experiencing,” he added.

The APEC Business Advisory Council was established in November 1995 as a permanent body composed of business leaders from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation member economies to serve as an independent voice of business within the APEC process.

ABAC’s main task is to review the progress of APEC’s work on trade and investment liberalization. PND (rck)

President Aquino directs law enforcement agencies and government instrumentalities to ensure free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible May elections

President Benigno S. Aquino III has ordered the deputation of law enforcement agencies and instrumentalities of the government, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to ensure free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible conduct of the May 13, 2013 automated national and local elections.

The directive was issued by virtue of Memorandum Order (MO) No. 52 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on January 9, 2013.

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC), through its Resolution No. 9589 (s. 2012), resolved to request the concurrence of the President in the deputation of law enforcement agencies and other instrumentalities of the government, including the AFP, for the conduct of the May elections.

Pursuant to Section 2 (4), Article IX-C of the Constitution, the COMELEC is empowered to deputize, with the concurrence of the President, law enforcement agencies and instrumentalities of the Government, including the AFP, for the exclusive purpose of ensuring free, orderly, honest, peaceful, and credible elections.

The Chief Executive directed the law enforcement agencies and other concerned agencies to coordinate and cooperate with the COMELEC in the performance of their duties and functions.

The MO No. 52 shall take effect immediately. PND (js)

Malacanang maintains its version of FOI Bill will remain true to its vision of allowing access to information ‘vital to public interest’

Malacanang maintained that its version of the Freedom of Information Bill that is still pending in both Houses of Congress remains true to its vision of allowing the public to easily access information “vital to public interest” as long as government work is left unhampered.

In a press briefing in Malacanang on Tuesday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said that this is the “balance” the FOI Bill hopes to achieve between granting access to government informationn without impeding the normal flow of government work and processes.

“Meron pong access ang publiko to the information that is vital to public interest but without hampering necessarily the work of government. From the get-go, that was the balance that we wanted to strike and we believe that we were able to put it down in the version that we submitted to the Lower House and to the Senate,” Valte said.

She pointed out that the claims of some quarters that provisions introduced by Malacanang, particularly on executive privilege and national security, would prohibit the public’s access to information was incorrect as these two provisions were recognized exceptions “by way of jurisprudence.”

“So hindi po namin din naiintidihan kung ano ang kanilang ibig sabihin ‘nung sinabi nilang ang version daw po ng Malacañang ay nililimitahan ang kalayaan para doon sa impormasyon na hinahanap ng ating publiko,” Valte said.

“Kasi isa po ako sa mga nagtrabaho doon sa study group na inatasan ng Pangulong Aquino na aralin ang mga existing versions at ang mga version po ng ibang jurisdiction at hindi po namin masasabi na nililimitahan nito ang access,” she added. PND (rck)

Aquino leads Philippine Army change of command

President Benigno S. Aquino III led the change of command of the Philippine Army Tuesday in Fort Bonifacio expecting the new army chief to carry out the reforms in the service for the benefit of the people.

The President acknowledged the outstanding leadership of former Army chief Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista adding his successor must be equally capable. General Bautista assumed the post of chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

A decorated officer like Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes could perform the same feat achieved by General Bautista, the President said during Tuesday’s change of command ceremony.

“Mataas ang tiwala’t kumpiyansa ng sambayanan sa iyo, Lieutenant General Coballes, kaya naman umaasa akong hindi ka madidiskaril sa iyong sinumpaang mandato,” he said.

The President said he’s excited about the improvements and development that the Armed forces could have with the approval of the New AFP Modernization Act, which will provide P75 billion in the next five years.

Under the present government, the AFP had a lot of improvement like the acquisition of a new Navy ship, helicopters, military trucks and other vehicles as well as modern firearms for the soldiers, the chief executive said.

Another challenge is achieving an ideal population-to-soldier ratio, the President said. He added that since 1986 the number of soldiers remains the same despite the tremendous increase in the population.

“Ang atin pong tugon: ang ipadama sa kasundaluhan na nasa likod nila ang pamahalaan; na habang ibinubuwis nila ang kanilang buhay sa serbisyo ay nariyan ang estado upang pangalagaan ang kanilang kapakanan,” he said.

Part of this is providing soldiers with better skills through active deployment and training, as well as rest and recreation particularly for those who came from battle.

The chief executive also noted the important role that the police and the military will play during this year’s midterm election.

“Ang pagharap ng sambayanan sa panibagong sangandaan sa halalan sa Mayo, ay hudyat din ng panibagong hamon para sa ating kasundaluhan. Habang kaliwa’t kanan ang pagbuhos ng mga patalastas, at ang paminsan-minsang pagtatagisang-dila ng mga kandidatong nangangampanya, tungkulin ng ating mga pulis at sundalong mapanatili ang kapanatagan sa ating taumbayan,” the President said.

A native of Tuguegarao, Cagayan, Coballes was born on February 7, 1958. He started his military career upon his graduation from the Philippine Military Academy on February 1980.

Posted mostly in Mindanao, Coballes led the assaults for the capture of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) Camp Omar and Camp Abubakar. Coballes is a recipient of five Gold Cross Medals for his gallantry in battle.

He also took military courses in the US and had participated in trainings and seminars in the US, Mongolia, Thailand, India and Australia.

The 55th Army chief is married to the former Ms. Lorna Paglinawan of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte and the couple has four daughters.

Also present during Tuesday’s event were Vice President Jejomar Binay, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas, Transportation and Communication Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma. PND (as)

President Aquino faces a busy schedule in Davos, Switzerland

ZURICH, Switzerland) President Benigno S. Aquino III will kick off his five-day visit here by meeting a number of key business leaders in an effort to promote the Philippines as an investment haven.

President Aquino and his official delegation will arrive on Thursday morning at the Zurich-Kloten International Airport, and will immediately proceed to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum's (WEF) Annual Meeting.

Prior to his attendance to the WEF Annual Meeting, President Aquino will first meet with the executives of Volkswagen. He will also have a meeting with Managing Director Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund.

This will be followed by his attendance to the WEF activity on “Partnering Against Corruption Initiative.”

On the second day of his visit, the President will also meet with Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, to be followed by a meeting with the Global Business executives.

He will also participate in various WEF activities on “Informal Gathering of World Economic Leaders--Defining the Imperatives for 2013,” “Global Physical Infrastructure,” and “Resilience Diversity.”

The President will also have an interview with John Defterios, editor, Cable News Network Emerging Markets and anchor of Global Exchange.

President Aquino will cap his visit in Switzerland with a meet and greet with members of the Filipino community at the Zurich Renaissance Hotel prior to his return to the Philippines.

The President's visit to Switzerland is his first since he assumed office in June 2010.

His attendance to the WEF Annual Meeting will provide him the opportunity to exhort leading businessmen of Switzerland and other stakeholders attending the annual meeting for them to explore business opportunities in the Philippines especially now that the country is open for business. PND (co)