Wednesday, 23 January 2013

PIA News Dispatch - Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Aquino lauds spirit of generosity of government nurses

President Benigno S. Aquino III expressed his gratitude to government nurses who forego financial gain in favor of being of service to fellow countrymen.

"It is this spirit of generosity that inspires us to work harder for the benefit of the people, particularly in pursuing our Universal Health Care program, which seeks to give efficient, accessible, and quality medical services to all Filipinos," the Chief Executive said in his message to the National League of Philippine Government Nurses Inc. (NLPGNI) on the occasion of its 52nd Founding Anniversary.

The NLPGNI opened its 2013 Biennial Convention at the Grand Regal Hotel, Davao City on Wednesday. The convention would end on Thursday.

"We are grateful to have you as our partners in the implementation of this vital measure, so our countrymen may remain strong and healthy as they take advantage of the opportunities in this era of revitalization," the President said

The President said he hopes that the occasion will bring renewed vigor to the NLPGNI's collective effort to continue giving personalized care to the patients.

"May it inspire you to keep demonstrating excellence, integrity, and passion in your endeavors, that we may remain responsive to the needs of our people and sustain the momentum of our resurgence in this era of daylight," he said. PND (js)

Gov’t. allots P49-M for President Aquino’s participation in WEF in Switzerland

The government has set aside around P49 million for President Benigno S. Aquino III’s attendance at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Switzerland, where he is expected to highlight the administration’s anti-corruption campaign and make a pitch on the Philippines’ readiness to receive more investments, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said on Wednesday.

Ochoa said the Chief Executive will not only participate in economic discussions with global business and political leaders in Davos, but will also deliver a keynote address on the fight against corruption at the WEF “Partnering Against Corruption Initiative” which will be held on January 24.

“President Aquino’s participation in the WEF is an important opportunity for us to let the world know of our determination to institutionalize good governance in our country as one of the principal pillars of fiscal reform,” Ochoa said.

“President Aquino will share the successes of his administration’s campaign against corruption, which served as a springboard for the significant improvement in our country’s economy,” Ochoa added.

President Aquino will depart for Davos on Wednesday night to take part in the WEF from January 23 to 27, accompanied by a 63-member delegation that includes Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Cabinet Secretary to the President Jose Rene Almendras and PCDSPO Secretary Ramon Carandang.

The estimated cost of the President’s participation to the annual gathering of world business and political managers covers the delegation’s chartered flight to Switzerland, accommodation, transportation, food, and equipment and telecommunications requirements, among others.

On January 26, the President will have a brief stop in Zurich to meet the Filipino community before proceeding with his trip to Manila. PND

Philippines to insist on claims for damages of Tubbataha Reef, Palace says

Malacanang said the Philippine government is determined to press its claim for the damage caused by a US Navy ship running aground in the Tubbataha Reef last week.

In a press briefing in Malacanang on Wednesday, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Department of Foreign Affairs will discuss the country’s claims with US officials after the US Navy ship is removed from the Tubbataha Reef.

“The DFA will be the lead agency in discussing this matter with their US counterparts,” Lacierda said about the Philippine claim for damages.

As of the moment however, Lacierda said the prime consideration is removing the naval ship from the area before Philippine and US official discuss compensation.

“Nag-usap kami ni Secretary Albert del Rosario. Do not be worried about our claims. We have the law. We will enforce the law,” he said.

“This is a national treasure and a world heritage site and, therefore, it is important to us. It is precious to us. But, you must remember, the primary consideration right now is to remove the ship from the reef,” Lacierda added noting any salvage operation must ensure minimal damage to the reefs.
The President’s instruction is to prioritize taking the ship out with minimal damage to the reefs, he said. Lacierda added that the President is concerned with the situation on the reefs.

Asked by reporters whether the 1,000 square meters of damaged to the reefs is significant, the Palace official said: “It’s a damage to a world heritage site. It’s a damage to our natural resources. It’s a damage to an important site. We cannot but put emphasis on the importance of this reef as a heritage site.”

A local task force monitoring the situation reported that around 1,000 square meters of reefs were damaged.

The US Navy’s commitment so far is for the speedy extrication of the Navy ship and it is currently working with Philippine authorities, Lacierda said. The US Navy also issued a formal apology to the Philippine government through a press release, he added.

According to the report of the task force, US Navy men made dives to assess the extent of damage to the ship and a Philippine assessment team also made underwater surveys to determine the extent of damage to the reefs.

There was severe damage to the rudder and the propeller of the vessel, Lacierda said citing reports released by the task force.

The USS Guardian, a 68-meter long minesweeper, ran aground Thursday last week while in transit through the marine park. Philippine authorities said there were no injuries or oil leaks caused by the incident.

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 other fishes. PND (as)

Malacanang expects rule of law to prevail in resolving West Philippine Sea dispute

The Palace expects that the international law will prevail in finally settling the disputed West Philippine Sea issue after the Philippines elevated its cause to the international tribunal.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing in Malacanang on Wednesday that the Palace also expects China and the Philippines, being signatories to United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to observe the laws and the rules of UNCLOS.

“We feel that now is the time to raise (it) before the arbitral tribunal. This is on the basis of a rules-based approach to resolving the issues in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.

Referring to a statement of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Lacierda said the Philippines has already exhausted almost all possible means to settle the dispute peacefully based on the government’s three-way track—legal, political, and diplomatic.

“The Palace has taken the position that this is a rules-based approach. Our approach in going through the arbitral tribunal is the legal way that we have been saying and Secretary Del Rosario has the full confidence of the President—the President being the chief policymaker,” he added.

Despite the case being brought to the international tribunal, it’s not the end-all and be-all for the Philippine-China relations, Lacierda said.

He said the two countries have an active engagement with each other in several other fields and they can continue to move forward with their people-to-people engagements and trade relations.

“This matter has been given over to the international tribunal and we’ll let the international tribunal decide on this matter. This is not the crux of our RP-China relations and certainly we do not intend, and China itself does not intend, to view the RP-China relations as the West Philippine Sea (being) our only issue”

In a briefer released by the Department of Foreign Affairs, it said it is the constitutional mandate of the President to pursue the national interest and defend the Philippine territory and maritime domain, which is why the Philippines is bringing the issue forward for international arbitration.

In anticipating the possible impact on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) by the recent government action, the DFA said the government is ready to provide appropriate safety nets for the OFWs.

With regards to possible effects on the country’s tourism sector, the DFA said the Philippines and China have good people-to-people engagement and the government is looking forward to enhancing the sector through an effective tourism program.

The move will also not result to a military conflict because China is a friend of the Philippines, it said, noting arbitration is a peaceful and amicable proceandofor resolving disputes among countries. PND (as)

President Aquino to meet with Volkswagen executives in Davos, Switzerland

ZURICH, Switzerland) Bent on attracting more investors to infuse their capital to the Philippines, President Benigno S. Aquino III will meet with the key executives of Volkwagen, a German car manufacturer, who have expressed their interest in "reestablishing their operations" in the country.

The President's meeting with the Volkswagen executives will be his first activity shortly after his arrival in Davos, Switzerland.

"Well, they (Volkswagen executives) are interested in reestablishing their operations...," Presidential Communication Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ramon Carandang said during a press conference at the Renaissance Hotel here.

Volkswagen, which means "people's car," is a German automobile manufacturer headquartered in Wolfsburg, Lower Saxony, Germany. Volkswagen is the original and top-selling marque of the Volkswagen Group, the biggest German automaker and the second biggest automaker in the world.

"As you know, for a while, I think about ten years ago or so, there was a retail operation where you could buy their cars, but that closed down. And I think it's already been announced in the local media that Volkswagen is going to come in, in partnership with Ayala, and they will begin to market their vehicles to the Philippine market," Carandang said.

"Beyond that, we're hoping that this is going to be a first step to what we hope will be more investments in the Philippines by Volkswagen and by other European companies," he added.

President Aquino is expected to arrive at the Zurich-Kloten International Airpot here on Thursday (Zurich time) and will immediately proceed to Davos, Switzerland where he will attend the World Economic Forum's annual meeting.

He will be accompanied by a 63-member delegation that includes Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad, Socio-economic Planing Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, and Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras. PND (rda)

Aquino signs Kasambahay Bill into law

President Benigno S. Aquino III signed into law January 18 the Republic Act No. 10361, or “An Act Instituting Policies for the Protection and Welfare of Domestic Workers.

The new law, also known as the Kasambahay Bill is expected to benefit more than two million domestic helpers in the country.

“We are pleased to confirm that President Aquino signed Republic Act 10361 or ‘An Act Instituting Policies for the Protection and Welfare of Domestic Workers’ last January 18, 2013,” Valte said in a message to the media.

A copy of the law will be uploaded on the Palace website and it will take effect 15 days after its publication online or in a newspaper of general circulation, she said.

With the approval of the new law, domestic workers will now receive a minimum salary of P2,500 a month in the National Capital Region; P2,000 a month in chartered cities and first class municipalities; and P1,500 a month for those employed in other municipalities.

Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards will review and adjust the wages for domestic workers a year after its implementation.

Social benefits will also be given to domestic workers under existing laws such as the Social Security System, Philhealth, and Pag-Ibig Fund. PND (as)