Thursday, 26 September 2013

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, September 26, 2013

President Aquino pays last respects to soldiers killed in Zamboanga standoff

NORZAGARAY, Bulacan) President Benigno S. Aquino III paid his last respects and condoled with the family of 1st Lieutenant John Kristofer Rama, the first officer-casualty of the Armed Forces of the Philippines killed in clashes with the Moro National Liberation Front-Misuari faction in Zamboanga City, during his visit to the Rama household here on Thursday.

The President, who was accompanied by Presidential Management Staff Chief Julia Abad, arrived at Rama's wake at 10:45 a.m.

According to Erlnda, Rama's wife, the President pledged to provide housing and educational assistance for her and her daughter Elisa Irene.

She expressed her heartfelt gratutude for the President's visit and pledge, and said that she felt proud the President chose to honor the memory of her husband with his presence.

After staying some 20 minutes, the President left for Pulilan, Bulacan to visit the wake of 2nd Lt. Florencio Michael Esguerra Meneses and then for Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City to visit the wake of 1st Lt. Francis Damian. PND (rck)

President Aquino visits wake of an army officer in Pulilan, Bulacan

PULILAN, Bulacan) President Benigno S. Aquino III visited on Thursday the wake of an Army officer who died in an encounter between the government troops and the Moro National Liberation Front Misuari faction in Zamboaga City last September 23.

The Chief Executive paid his last respects and condoled with the family of 27-year-old 1st LT Florencio Mikael Esguerra Meneses, an officer of the 7th Scout Ranger Company and member of the Philippine Military Academy Laon-Alab Class of 2011.

Accompanied by Presidential Management Staff head Julia Abad, President Aquino arrived at the wake on Cueto Street, Barangay Tibag at 11:30 a.m.

President Aquino handed financial assistance to the slain officer's parents Regina and Alberto Meneses. He also expressed his condolences to the officer's siblings, namely Elizabeth Peralta, Janina Reyes and Gracia Chen.

The parents of LT. Meneses expressed gratitude to the President for visiting the wake of their only son who died during clash in Zamboanga City.

During the visit that lasted for 30 minutes, the President told Regina that he directed the Department of National Defense (DND) and other concerned government agencies to further conduct a review of the military systems and procedures with the aim of preventing unnecessary loss of lives during combat.

The President told the family that he acknowledged the bravery of Meneses who gave his own life to serve the country and the Filipino people. PND (js)

President Aquino visits wake of 1st Lt Francis Damian

After earlier condoling with the families of two officer-fatalities in Norzagaray and Pulilan in Bulacan province, President Benigno S. Aquino III paid his respects to 1st Lieutenant Francis Damian, whose wake is being held in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on Thursday.

Damian, together with 1st Lt John Kristofer Rama and 2nd Lt Florencio Meneses, are among three officer-casualties of the Armed Forces of the Philippines killed after engaging members of the Moro National Liberation Front-Misuari faction in Zamboanga City.

Tensions between government troops and the MNLF-Misuari faction is now on its 18th day with no clear resolution in sight.

The President, who was accompanied by Presidential Management Staff Chief Julia Abad, arrived at the Camp Aguinaldo chapel at around 12:25 p.m.

After condoling with Damian's wife, Lt Junior Leslie Campos Damian, and their seven-month old daughter Sophie, President Aquino left Camp Aguinaldo at a little past one o'clock in the afternoon. PND (rck)

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

PIA News Dispatch - Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Malacanang hopeful Zamboanga City returns to normalcy

Malacanang expressed optimism that normalcy will soon return to Zamboanga City after the conflict between government troops and the members of the Moro National Liberation Front-Misauari faction entered its 17th day on Wednesday.

In a press briefing in Malacanang, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that the latest update from the province was that shipping lines between Zamboanga City and Tawi-Tawi had begun operations, 60 percent of schools have opened and the biggest mall in the province has also begun servicing its customers.

“Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Mar Roxas II informed me that there are now daily ships to Tawi-Tawi. It resumes today. They have been cut off for 16 days. There are about 1,000 stranded passengers from each side so now that we have resumed shipping in Tawi-Tawi, we will have a daily commute,” Lacierda said.

He said members from the Philippine Coast Guard, the Philippine Navy and the Philippine National Police have joined forces to ensure the safety of those travelling between provinces.

“The Coast Guard, the Navy and the PNP Marines have set up appropriate security measures just to be sure. And also today, there are 149 elementary and secondary schools today that were opened. That’s around 60 percent of the schools there. The remainder, in conflict areas, are being used as evacuation centers,” Lacierda said.

“So, we are now returning, hopefully, to normalcy in areas that were affected by the conflict in Zamboanga City and hopefully, we will recover soon,” he added. PND (rck)

Malacanang warns Commission on Audit building shooters: ‘You will fail’

Malacanang expressed concern over the shooting by still unknown individuals of the Commission on Audit (COA) building in Quezon City on Wednesday, saying the perpetrators would fail in their attempt to use the incident as a threat to “people pushing for reforms.”

“To those elements who intended to use this as a threat to those people pushing for reforms, you have heard the chairman and you will fail,” Lacierda said in a press briefing in Malacanang.

He commended the COA who, through its chairman Grace Pulido-Tan, said the agency would not be deterred and will continue with their audit functions.

“We commend the statement of Chairman Grace Pulido-Tan that they will not be deterred by the recent incident at the COA building and we commend their determination to continue with their mandate to serve the Filipino people and to continue with their audit functions. This should not deter anyone,” Lacierda said.

He added that security measures would be accorded to the commissioners of the COA after further assessment of the situation.

“We will assess the situation but certainly we are looking at the incident with concern… if the investigation will reveal that this was no random incident, we certainly look at this with grave concern,” Lacierda said.

Quezon City Police Department Chief Superintendent Richard Albano said in an earlier interview that the COA building along Commonwealth Avenue was shot at early Wednesday morning with police forces conducting an investigation into the incident. PND (rck)

President Aquino urges People Management Association of the Philippines to carry out initiatives in securing country’s position among Asia’s emerging economies

President Benigno S. Aquino III called on the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP) to continue its initiatives to secure the country's position as one of Asia’s emerging economies.

"Today our country stands tall as one of Asia’s emerging economies, promising continued dynamism and far-reaching revitalization," the Chief Executive said in his message to PMAP on the occasion of its 50th year Anniversary.

The PMAP opened on Wednesday the 50th Annual Conference at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City. The three-day conference will tackle relevant issues in light of the impending ASEAN market integration in 2015.

"Your fifth decade of cultivating potential could not have come at a better time, as we focus our collective efforts to advance further along the straight and righteous path. May this milestone fill you with the imperative to forge ahead; let it galvanize you to train our various organizations in pursuing innovations and in leading their members towards progress," the President said.

"This milieu’s most daunting task is to always push the envelope of development. I urge our countrymen to sustain our synergism and maintain a keen eye on the more empowered, equitable future we aspire for," he continued.

The President urged the citizens to take the opportunities available to the Filipino workforce in the integrated ASEAN.

"United in our undertakings, we can maximize the opportunities before us, secure our position in the global market, and reaffirm to the community of nations the Philippine emergence that they are now bearing witness to," he said.

The PMAP is a professional, non-stock, not-for-profit organization of over 1,800 member companies and individual management executives engaged or interested in Human Resource Management (HRM) and Industrial Relations (IR) work.

As a professional association, the PMAP helps its members become more effective on the job by teaching the human aspect of management via numerous career development forums and training programs. PND (js)

President Aquino declares November 12 as special non-working day in Gumaca, Quezon in celebration of its Foundation Day

President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared November 12, which falls on a Tuesday, as a special (non-working) day in the municipality of Gumaca in the province of Quezon in celebration of its Foundation Day.

The Chief Executive issued the declaration by virtue of Proclamation No. 625 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on July 17 to give the people of Gumaca the full opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occasion with appropriate ceremonies.

Gumaca, one of the oldest towns in Quezon province, was already a well-established community even before the Spaniards came. The community had a barangay government as early as the 14th century. Gumaca was established as an independent town in 1582. PND (js)

Government will not tolerate looting of soldiers in Zamboanga City, says Palace

The Palace said it won’t tolerate the alleged looting committed by soldiers at the height of the siege in Zamboanga City against the members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

“We frown on our own soldiers harming our own civilians in this manner. Looting is not acceptable. They are there to protect the people,” Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing on Wednesday in Malacanang.

“Let me just emphasize: We—the AFP and this government—will not tolerate any looting by our own soldiers. The leadership of AFP has already imposed sanctions on these soldiers who have done those despicable acts,” he added.

It was alleged that four army personnel face accusations of looting after they allegedly ransacked a house in Zamboanga City.

There were reports saying a resident lost valuables in his family’s home when uniformed men earlier stormed the place.

The military issued immediate apologies, acknowledging that the incident was a serious breach of the organization’s ideals. It said the uniformed personnel allegedly involved in the robbery are being held at a stockade pending a military trial.

Meanwhile, reacting to reports saying that the feared Christian vigilante group Ilaga has reorganized to counter attacks by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in North Cotabato and Maguindanao, Lacierda issued an appeal to the public to let the police and the military do their security and law enforcement jobs.

“We would like to call on all these groups, whether you’re a civilian, let the military do its job. Let the law enforcement authorities do their job,” he said.

The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters had reportedly attacked Midsayap, North Cotabato, as well as some towns in Maguindanao this week. PND (as)

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, September 24, 2013

President Aquino cites role of agricultural and biosystems engineering sector in the Philippines for integration of economies among ASEAN

President Benigno S. Aquino III acknowledged the crucial role of the agricultural and biosystems engineering sector in ensuring that the Philippines is ready for the integration of economies among the 10-member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) by 2015.

"As our goal of an integrated ASEAN Economic Community nears, the need to refine our responses to the challenges it brings forth becomes apparent," the Chief Executive said to the organizers and participants of the ASEAN Conference on Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering.

"This is particularly true in terms of the trade of agricultural and forestry-based products: Much of ASEAN’s population rely on these two sectors for their livelihood and sustenance; our success in addressing concerns in these two fields will be crucial not only in shoring up our respective economies, but also in solving problems such as rural poverty, malnutrition, and inequality," the President said.

Filipino agricultural engineers and their counterparts from South East Asia convened on Tuesday, the first-ever ASEAN Conference on Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ACABE 2013) at the Manila Hotel. The event will end on September 27.

President Aquino called on Filipino agricultural engineers to take advantage of this activity to establish linkages, exchange information, and manage key issues concerning agricultural and biosystems engineering. He also hope that the sector may play a much larger role in the collective development of the ASEAN community.

"Together, let us work hand-in-hand in ensuring the realization of our goals, in line with our vision of greater ASEAN integration, in a way that will be meaningful, beneficial, and empowering for all peoples of the region," he said.

The conference aims to harmonize agricultural engineering qualifications, standards and services to make the region’s agricultural and fishery sector globally competitive, and climate change-resilient. PND (js)

Government plans to hire private company to dredge rivers to alleviate flood situation in Subic

The Aquino government, through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), plans to hire a private company to dredge the rivers in Subic, Zambales in an attempt to alleviate the worsening flood situation a Palace Official said on Tuesday.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte assured during the regular press briefing in Malacanang that the DPWH is now addressing the concerns of the Subic communities that were hit by Super Typhoon Odette.

The monsoon rains, enhanced by Odette (international name Usagi), poured incessantly over the weekend, swelling rivers, causing floodings and triggered landslides in Subic and other areas in Zambales.

Calaclan River and other rivers that pass through Subic were heavily silted and overflowed, causing the floods.

"Apparently, there is already a dredger from DPWH that is on standby in Olongapo. But it has not been operational since August of 2011 because there is a certain part -it’s called a converter module, na sira. It’s not working because of that and there are no available parts in the market. That’s why Secretary (Rogelio) Singson said that they are already considering contracting out the dredging to a private company," Valte said.

Aside from dredging the rivers, Valte said the DPWH also plans to widen watersways to address the massive floodings.

"It’s not just the dredging kasi that is the solution. Siguro the knee-jerk solution to any siltation in a river would be desiltation and dredging. But, as what always Secretary Singson says, ‘yung widening also of the waterways a kailangan," Valte said.

"And, normally, the widening is hampered by the presence of some structures along those rivers—or, at least, in this particular river—and the DPWH is dependent also on the local government to help in clearing the structures along the waterways," she said. PND (js)

Palace condemns alleged atrocities of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom fighters in North Cotabato

The alleged beheading of a farmer in North Cotabato is not only cruel but also inhuman, Malacanang said as it vowing to hold the perpetrators accountable for the crime.

The military reported that a farmer was beheaded by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF) in Midsayap, North Cotabato.

The military said soldiers found the decapitated body of Ricardo Dionio in Sitio Dimapulot in Barangay Malinao, Midsayap, North Cotabato.

The fighting spread on Tuesday, with hostilities reported on the outskirts of Tulunan town as well as in the Maguindanao towns of Parang, where a civilian was wounded when an improvised explosive device was set off.

In Datu Saudi Ampatuan, the BIFF fighters reportedly attacked a military detachment.

Security officials in Mindanao said they have enough forces to prevent a spillover of the violence.

Despite the barbarity of the BIFF acts, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said it’s up to the military and security officials to decide whether to declare the BIFF a terrorist organization.

The Abu Sayyaf Group, who did similar brutal acts in the past, is considered a terrorist organization by the government. PND (as)

Monday, 23 September 2013

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, September 23, 2013

Malacanang says President Aquino still has full confidence in AFP Chief of Staff

Malcanang said on Monday that Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista still retains the full confidence of President Benigno S. Aquino III.

In a press briefing in Malacanang, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the President “saw no problem” with the leadership of the AFP and cited the response of security forces to dangerous situations, particularly the ongoing Zamboanga City standoff where government troops are engaging members of the Moro National Liberation Front-Misuari faction.

Lacierda also said the AFP was responsible for the immediate cessation of new hostilities in Midsayap, North Cotabato after a platoon from Alpha Company encountered an undetermined number of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) this morning.

“Nakita po natin ang tugon ng Armed Forces of the Philippines. Handa po sila tumugon sa Zamboanga City at ngayon handa po sila tumugon, at in fact tumigil na ang fire fight sa Cotabato laban sa BIFF,” Lacierda said.

“There is no problem in so far as the leadership of AFP Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista. The President has full confidence in him,” he added.

According to Lacierda, troops conducting combat clearing operations in Sitio Mirasol, Barangay Prolomugen, Midsayap, North Cotabato at around 8:35 this morning, encountered an undetermined number of BIFFs under an unknown leader. PND (rck)

National Electrification personnel already in Batanes to restore electricity

The National Electrification Administration (NEA) has already sent its personnel to Batanes to restore electricity in areas affected by Typhoon Odette, a Palace official said.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Monday that NEA personnel are now in Batanes to restore power the soonest possible time in the areas affected by the typhoon.

Typhoon Odette (international codename Usagi) slammed into the Philippines’ northernmost islands on Saturday, cutting communication and power lines, triggering landslides and damaging rice fields and crops, reports said.

Lacierda said the government is speeding up its relief efforts to immediately respond to the needs of the communities in the affected areas.

"A C-130 plane, this morning, flew to Batanes together with Congresswoman Dina Abad and some NEA officials, NEA personnel on board. She brought relief goods to Batanes and NEA personnel are there to restore power in Batanes," Lacierda said.

"Also some telcos (telecommunications) have also sent their personnel there to provide charging stations for their cell phones dahil nga walang kuryente doon," he said.

The Aquino government, through the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and the Department of Social Welfare and Development, continues to monitor the situation and extend assistance to all affected communities in Batanes, Subic etc. Lacierda said. PND (js)