PCOO Secretary Sonny Coloma's Statement
We expect to resume public display of the President's website in a few hours after needed protection measures have been put in place. At around 1:30 a.m. today, we detected a breach when an errant sentence critical of the government on the Sabah issue was found to have been inserted in one of the news items within the website. No further intrusions were made as the internal security protocols were activated.
President Aquino joins nation, Catholic faithful in welcoming the new Pope
President Benigno S. Aquino III, along with the Filipino people, joined all the Catholic faithful in welcoming the new pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, and prayed that the holy pontiff will serve as a voice for peace, justice, and charity in a world threatened by tension and armed conflict, poverty, uncertainty, and loss of confidence in institutions.
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda issued the statement on Thursday following the election of Bergoglio as the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church. The new pope has taken the name Francis and is the first non-European pontiff in nearly 1,300 years.
"The President, along with the Filipino people, joins all the Catholic faithful as they receive their new leader and meet his proclamation with a sense of boundless promise,"
"As the first pope from outside Europe in a millennium—the first pope from the Society of Jesus, and the first from Latin America—the election of Pope Francis brings with it the promise of renewal in the Catholic Church, as it strives to fulfill its mission here on earth," Lacierda said.
The 76-year-old Pope Francis appeared on the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica just over an hour after white smoke poured from a chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel to signal that 115 cardinal electors had chosen him to lead the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.
"We hope and pray that this will inaugurate a pontificate that will bear witness not only to the basic tenets of the Gospel, but will also serve as a voice for peace, justice, and charity in a world threatened by tension and armed conflict, poverty, uncertainty, and loss of confidence in institutions," Lacierda noted.
"This is not merely a time for all Catholics to come together. This is a call for unity across nations—across ethnicities—to work with the new Catholic leadership towards shaping a world in which each and every human being is allowed to live a life of peace, joy, and dignity. Our administration is eager to work with the new Catholic leadership to achieve that end," he stressed.
In congratulating Pope Francis, Lacierda said: "May God continue to grant you strength and wisdom as you lead the Catholic Church into its next chapter." PND (js)
Malacanang says Philippines to continue seeking all opportunities to build climate of mutual trust and cooperation with People’s Republic of China
Malacañang on Thursday said the Philippines will continue to “seek all opportunities to help build a climate of mutual trust and cooperation” with the People’s Republic of China following the formal assumption of Xi Jinping as its new president.
In a statement extending its ‘sincere congratulations’ to the newly-installed Chinese leader, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda expressed that the Philippines is in one with the people of China in welcoming Xi’s presidency.
“The People’s Republic of China views this as an auspicious moment as they work towards their prosperity and stability. This is a sentiment shared by all peoples of good will, who look forward to opportunities for positive engagement fortified by trust, good will, and cooperation, for the mutual benefit of all peoples in our region and around the world,” Lacierda said.
Xi assumed the presidency after getting majority of the votes in the 18th National People’s Congress, held Thursday in Beijing, and his election as General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee and Chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission.
“We will seek all opportunities to help build a climate of mutual trust and cooperation to enhance stability in our region so that the positive economic momentum of our respective nations may be sustained,” Lacierda concluded. PND (hdc)
Government renews resolve to bring justice to pyramid scam victims in Visayas, Mindanao
The Aquino government made an assurance on Thursday that it is doing everything to serve justice to the victims of the pyramid scam organized by Manuel Amalilio and his cohorts.
“We will continue to work for the successful prosecution of Amalilio et al. And as you know, there have been a series of complaints or cases filed in court because there have been determinations already of probable cause by the panel of prosecutors,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said in a press conference in Malacanang on Thursday.
Palace reporters asked De Lima if there is an assurance that Amalilio’s case will not be put in the backburner particularly with the ongoing incident in Sabah that might affect his return to the Philippines to face charges here.
In assuring the victims, De Lima said there are arrest warrants issued by different courts such as in Cagayan de Oro City and Pagadian City. The Department of Justice is also waiting for the Iligan City court to issue similar warrants against Amalilio and his co-conspirators at Aman Futures.
“There are several complaints filed and several are still under preliminary investigation and some are already in court, and there have been warrants of arrest. We will continue to work for the successful prosecution of Amalilio et al,” she said.
Currently, the DOJ is working on how to repatriate Amalilio, De Lima said. Amalilio is currently serving a two-year sentence in a Malaysian jail for using a fake Philippine passport.
Philippine justice officials discussed with their Malaysian counterparts ways to bring Amalilio to the Philippines even before the lapse of his two-year jail sentence in Malaysia, the justice official said.
“So if the right time comes, kung mag-die down na ‘yung heat or ‘yung situation sa Sabah, then we can already send our team to Kuala Lumpur,” she said hoping that the ongoing conflict in Sabah won’t affect the prosecution of Amalilio in the Philippines.
The DOJ cancelled the trip of its team who was supposed to leave last Tuesday for Kuala Lumpur to begin the initial talks for Amalilio’s repatriation.
De Lima said they do not believe the current situation in Sabah would yield a fruitful outcome if the DOJ proceeds with the talks. The cancellation is one of the “unintended consequences” of the acts of Kiram’s group in Sabah.
Amalilio, the head of Aman Futures Group, allegedly duped some 15,000 people in the Visayas and Mindanao amounting to P12 billion. PND (as)
Government to file charges against followers of Kiram fleeing Sabah
The government is readying appropriate charges against 36 individuals intercepted by the Philippine Navy (PN) entering Philippine waters from Sabah, Malaysia in two boats on Wednesday (March 13), Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said.
In a briefing in Malacanang on Thursday, De Lima confirmed earlier reports that the individuals, who were intercepted within the vicinities of Omapoy and Adulingan islands in Tawi-Tawi, were members of the Royal Security Forces (RSF) of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.
“We confirm the reports yesterday about the interception of two groups of armed men from Sabah, Malaysia. So the first group was intercepted yesterday at 6:35 in the morning by Philippine Navy vessel PS38. There were 18 of them, 17 males, and one female, and with assorted firearms, and one of them was even found wounded, and they identified themselves as Royal Security Force,” De Lima said.
“The second group came in at 7:37, also yesterday, so isang oras lang ang pagitan. The same Philippine vessel PS38 intercepted the second group, and again, there were 18 passengers who were identified to be RSF members, and again, with assorted firearms,” she added.
She pointed out that a composite force composed of members from the National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine National Police and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group are studying the appropriate charges to file against these individuals.
“So with that development, the processes are now being undertaken by a composite team with the end view of filing the appropriate charges against them as soon as possible,” De Lima said. PND (rck)
Philippines exerting efforts to gain access to detained Filipinos in Malaysia
The Philippine government will continue to exert efforts to gain access to Filipinos detained by Malaysian authorities following the deadly offensive launched by Malaysia in Sabah, Malacanang said on Thursday.
It was reported that Malaysia rejected the Philippines’s request to have full access to Filipino detainees in its custody.
“Our concern is for our Filipinos in custody. We will continue to pursue our desire to seek access to our Filipino brethren who are in Malaysian custody,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing in Malacanang on Thursday.
Asked by reporters about the government’s option if ever Malaysia wouldn’t grant the Philippine’s request, Lacierda said that DFA has to work on it.
Malaysian authorities have reported that 64 people have been killed during the Sabah offensive, mostly followers of the Sulu sultanate. Also 97 people have been arrested in Sabah. Malaysia said security operations are continuing in the area.
The Philippine Navy reported it had detained 35 suspected Filipino militants on Wednesday sailing home from Sabah. The 35 people, fleeing Sabah, were seized by the navy on board two small boats from the Malaysian state.
The justice department said it is mulling filing charges against the detained Filipinos for carrying a large cache of weapons suspected to have been used during the Sabah conflict. PND (as)