Tuesday, 19 March 2013

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, March 19, 2013

President Aquino declares March 22 as special non-working day in Cavite in commemoration of 144th birth anniversary of Gen. Emilio Aquinaldo

President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared March 22, which falls on a Friday, as a special non-working day in the province of Cavite in commemoration of the 144th birth anniversary of General Emilio Aguinaldo, the first President of the Philippine Republic.

The Chief Executive issued the declaration by virtue of Proclamation No. 556 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on March 7, to give the people of Cavite the full opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occasion.

General Aguinaldo was born to Gobernadorccillo (Municipal Governor) Carlos Aguinaldo and Trinidad Famy on March 22, 1869 in Cavite Viejo (now called Kawit town).

The Philippines won independence from Spain in hard-fought battles led by Aguinaldo and other Filipino leaders in 1898.

On June 12, 1898, Aguinaldo, the revolutionary leader declared the Philippines independent, with himself as the unelected President.

Emilio Aguinaldo was officially inaugurated as the first president of the Philippine Republic in January, 1899. PND (js)

Malacanang says government hopes to achieve rice self sufficiency by 2014

The Aquino government expressed optimism that it would be able to achieve its goal of not importing rice by 2014, a Palace official said on Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during the regular press briefing in Malacanang that the Department of Agriculture, under the helm of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, has remained firm on its efforts to attain 100% rice self sufficiency by next year.

Lacierda said Alcala reported that the Philippines attained an increase in the productivity of rice since President Benigno S. Aquino III assumed his post in 2010.

According to Lacierda, Alcala cited the rice self-sufficiency program and overall growth in the crops subsector as the main growth drivers in attaining the agriculture growth.

"In 2010, we imported 2.4 million metric tons; in 2011, it was reduced to 860,000 metric tons; in 2012, it was further reduced to 500,000 metric tons; and in 2013, we are only importing 187,000 metric tons. By 2014, we will not be importing any metric tons," Lacierda said.

Lacierda noted that the Philippines is more focused on improving productivity in its rice sector to meet its rice self-sufficiency targets.

"Now, we’re just importing 8 percent of the 2.4 million metric tons in 2010, so you’ve seen the considerable increase in our own production, and the gradual lesser importation and by 2014, we will not be importing. This is according to Secretary Proceso Alcala," Lacierda said. PND (js)

Aquino government vows to continue providing more scholarship programs for the poor

The Aquino government vowed to continue providing more scholarship programs for the poor but deserving students, saying that education remains one of the priorities of the government to help support the country’s economic growth.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Tuesday that the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) offers various scholarship programs aimed at providing better opportunities for the Filipinos, especially the youths.

"For instance, we’ve got scholarships for bright Filipino students whose general weighted average is 90 percent and above. The financial benefit is P30,000 per annum. We grants-in-aid for bright Filipino students whose general average is 85 to 89 percent and the grant is P15,000 per annum," Lacierda said.

"Then, we also have national integration study grant program for members of the cultural minority groups; selected ethnic group education assistance program for the members of the hill tribes," he said.

"Meron po tayong OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process)-CHED study grant program intended for former rebels and the legitimate and legitimized dependents which expands access to college education opportunities," Lacierda stressed.

The CHED offers Grand-In-Aid or “Tulong-Dunong”, under the DND-CHED-PASUC (Department of National Defense-Commission on Higher Education- Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges) Study Grant Program, which is intended for dependents of killed-in-action (KIA), battle-related Complete Disability Discharged (CDD), and Combat and Active Military Personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The commission gives education benefit to children of KIA-CDD-Combat in order to contribute to the well-being of the country's soldiers by ensuring their children’s education.

The CHED also provides the Student Loan Program with the component of Study-Now-Pay-Later Plan (SNPLP), according to Lacierda.

The program is designed to promote democratization of access to educational opportunities in the tertiary level to poor but deserving students through financial assistance in the form of an educational loan.

"Then, we have study grants for poverty alleviation. We have the Bangsamoro special grant-in-aid program and other CHED programs," he said.

The CHED is mandated to provide these scholarship programs pursuant to RA 7722, otherwise known as the “Higher Education Act of 1994.”

Lacierda said the government vows to implement more reforms in education by increasing the budget. PND (js)