Monday, 25 November 2013

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, November 25, 2013

Chinese hospital ship arrives in PHL to help Yolanda victims

(TACLOBAN CITY) A hospital ship from China arrived in the Philippines Sunday to render medical aid to those affected by super typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan).

Chinese Ambassador Ma Keqing said the hospital ship "Peace Ark" dropped anchor 10 miles from here as it is too big to be anchored at any port.

"I hope it would be a big help," Ma told reporters here, even as she said patients have to be brought to and from the vessel via ferry.

Ambassador Ma said the vessel has about 100 doctors to treat various medical conditions.

The "Peace Ark" is part of the international efforts to help the Philippines, after super typhoon Yolanda battered Visayas and Southern Luzon and left more than 5,000 dead.

"Peace Ark" has a capacity of 300 beds and a staff of 106. PND (jl)

Finance officials to address post-'Yolanda' concerns of Tacloban, traders in meet

(TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte) Finance officials are to meet this week with local traders here to address their post-typhoon "Yolanda" concerns as they try to reopen their businesses.

City administrator John Tecson Lim said Monday the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Internal Revenue will be represented at the meeting.

"(The traders') primary concern is security and ... soft loans and implication of the BIR," Lim said at an inter-agency meeting here.

Businesses here had started to reopen last week, after Yolanda left behind a swath of destruction.

Lim also said security options are being considered for the traders here.

He also said representatives of major malls here may arrive this week to assess when to open the supermarkets.

Citing information reaching him, he said the target is to have these supermarkets reopened by the second week of December. PND (jl)

Government asks NGO's in cash-for-work reconstruction programs to observe minimum wage

(TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte) Non-government organizations engaged in reconstruction work here after super typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan) were asked Monday to make sure they pay the workers the minimum wage.

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman issued the reminder at an inter-agency meeting here, where she noted the minimum wage for the region is about P260 a day.

"We will encourage other NGOs providing cash-for-work to put in as near as possible," she said.

But she also asked the parties concerned to ensure safety precautions for workers, especially those in areas of the city that are still flooded.

Soliman also asked local authorities to make sure workers in the cash-for-work program will have access to medicines to prevent leptospirosis.

She pointed out leptospirosis is potentially deadly. PND (jl)

Land Transportation Office in Tacloban deploys teams vs overcharging

(TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte) With fuel prices starting to stabilize, the Land Transportation Office is deploying teams to catch public utility vehicle drivers who jack up their fares.

An inter-agency task force addressing the problems caused by super typhoon "Yolanda" was informed of this early Monday, as the city continues to recover from Yolanda.

LTO personnel were also instructed to report to their posts for deployment to key areas in the city.

During Monday's meeting, the LTO's representative said the agency has told drivers to "go back to normal fares because gas prices are almost normal now."

The LTO will also deploy teams to check for overcharging.

Tacloban City was among the areas hit hardest by Yolanda, which left more than 5,000 dead. PND (jl)

5 injured by 'Yolanda' get treatment aboard Chinese hospital ship

(TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte) At least five people affected by super typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan) were the initial beneficiaries of medical assistance from the staff of a Chinese hospital ship that arrived in the Philippines Sunday.

The crew of China's hospital ship "Peace Ark" immediately got to work on the patients, who were brought to it via ferry.

One of the patients, Flora Anadi, 44, was operated on after she suffered a fractured knee.

Another patient, Michael Martillo, 19, was treated for appendicitis.

Martillo initially went to Metro Manila to seek treatment but could not immediately be admitted there.

On Sunday, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Ma Keqing had said the hospital ship is too big to be anchored at any port, so it had to be anchored 10 miles away.

Ma said the vessel has about 100 doctors to treat various medical conditions. PND (jl)

Government to work closer with international aid agencies in 'Yolanda' rehab work

(TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte) The Philippine government is now working more closely with international agencies helping in rehabilitation work after super typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan).

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said she brought up the matter during a meeting with representatives of the agencies here Sunday.

According to Soliman, the meeting aimed to find which group is working where, so they will not overlap or duplicate each other's work.

"That is very important so we don't duplicate or overserve some areas and underserve others," she said.

She added the system will help them act if there are gaps for aid.

Meanwhile, city officials said 4,990 cubic meters of debris had been cleared in the last three days, bringing to 71 percent the total debris cleared so far. PND (jl)

President Aquino challenges new officers, members of the AFP to take active role in humanitarian response during calamities

President Benigno S. Aquino III challenged the new officers and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to take a more "organized and active role" in territorial defense and humanitarian response during calamities and disasters.

In his speech during the Joint Graduation of the Major Services Pre-Entry Officer Courses held at the AFP Theater, Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City on Monday, the Chief Executive reminded the AFP officers and personnel of their role in non-military activities such as providing disaster relief, constructing civilian housing, among others.

The AFP is composed of the Philippine Army (PA), Philippine Navy (PN) and the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

"Bilang Commander-in-Chief, alam ko ang bigat at lawak ng tungkuling nakaatang sa propesyong inyong pinasukan. Bilang mga kawal ng bayan, hindi kayo puwedeng mawala sa eksena sa panahon ng pangangailangan at mga di-inaasahang pangyayari," President Aquino said.

"Kapag may bakbakan, nariyan kayo’t handang sumalag ng bala, mailayo lang sa peligro ang kapwa Pilipino. Sa panahon ng sakuna, kayo rin ang inaasahang pumronta. Sa kasagsagan man ng lindol o sa gitna ng humahagupit na bagyo, agad rumeresponde ang mga kawal ng bayan: hindi nagpapatinag, at taas-noong tumutugon sa tawag ng tungkulin," he said.

The AFP officers and personnel play an active role as among the first responders in the event of calamities and natural disasters, the Chief Executive said.

The President said super typhoon "Yolanda" (internationally known as Haiyan ) caused catastrophic damage in the Philippines early this month. Yolanda was the strongest typhoon to ever hit the country.

"Kamakailan nga lang po ay humagupit si Yolanda: ang pinakamalakas na bagyong naitala sa ating kasaysayan. Sa ganitong mga panahon ng trahedya, mahalagang kayong mga kawal ang magsilbing haligi ng katatagan at sandigan ng ating mga kababayan," President Aquino said.

"Hindi kayo maaaring magpadaig sa anumang kalungkutan; hindi kayo maaaring magpakita ng anumang anyo ng kahinaan. Alam nating hindi ito madali, subalit sa mukha ng trahedya, nariyan kayo’t rumesponde upang kumalinga, at paghugutan ng lakas at pag-asa ng mga biktima," he said.

"Kasama ang mga pulis, bumbero, gayundin ang mga volunteers, kayo ang humukay sa putikan upang mabigyan ng mas marangal na pagkakahimlay ang mga nasawi. Kayo ang kumalinga sa mga biktimang kailangang lapatan ng pangunang lunas," he said.

President Aquino called on the new members of the AFP to fulfill their mandate of upholding the sovereignty, defending the territorial integrity of the country and protecting the Filipino people.

"Sa pagpasok po ng 140 nating graduates sa serbisyo sa araw na ito, siguradong lalakas pa ang puwersa ng ating mga kawal na handang humarap sa anumang banta o hamon," the President said.

"Sa bawat pagkakataon, patunayan ninyong karapat-dapat kayong maging bahagi ng Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas; buong tapang na humaharap sa anumang pagsubok," he stressed.

During the ceremonies, the President, who was assisted by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and AFP Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista, led the distribution of diplomas and the awarding of the Presidential Saber to graduates.

2nd Lieutenant Mary Jean B. Cabillete, PA; 2nd Lt. Kristyl May A. Beatingo, PAF; and Ensign Vanessa Katrina J. Tulang, PN received the Presidential Saber Award.

The awardees of the Secretary of National Defense Saber were Lt. Shiela Mae T. Enderez, PA; 2nd Lt. John Red A. Honrales, PAF; and Ensign Tiffany Ann P. Palmares, PN.

Meanwhile, the awardees of the Chief of Staff Saber were 2nd Lt Mike Vergel L. Conception, PA; 2nd Lt. Janna B. Ontong, PAF; and Ensign Eunice Fe. Sabado. PN. PND (js)

Aquino administration mourns death of veteran broadcaster June Keithley

The Aquino administration mourns the death of veteran broadcaster and 1986 Edsa People Revolution figure June Keithley-Castro who died on Sunday, a Palace official said.

"June Keithley-Castro’s battle with cancer–which she had waged since 2009–is at an end. To her last breath she exemplified courage and faith," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a statement.

Castro, the wife of the late veteran news anchor Angelo Castro Jr., was the host of Radyo Bandido at the height of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.

"Her courage enabled her to confront her illness, but also that of her husband, Angelo Castro Jr., whose death we all mourned in 2012, with dignity and the kind of serenity that can only come from an uncompromising faith in the goodness of God and trust in His plan for all things," Lacierda said.

The government also expressed its sympathy and condolences with the family of Castro.

"As we pause to pay her tribute, we believe we speak for the nation in extending our deepest sympathy to her children.

As she herself recounted, June Keithley rediscovered her faith in 1985, when her son asked her to accompany him to the Quirino Grandstand for the consecration of the nation to the Blessed Virgin Mary," Lacierda said.

As host of Radyo Bandido, she called on Filipinos to join the first People Power revolt at EDSA that ousted President Ferdinand Marcos.

"From there, her reawakening to her faith accompanied the period of national redemption and liberation that brought forth the Miracle of EDSA: that peaceful revolution which was marked by her voice on Radyo Bandido.

There, in the isolation of a radio studio, together with two brave children, she spoke truth to power for 14 hours, heedless of the danger of contesting the media apparatus of the dictatorship," the Palace spokesperson said. PND (js)

Massive relief efforts underway in 'Yolanda'-hit areas; over 1 million food packs distributed

Massive relief efforts are underway in the areas devastated by super typhoon "Yolanda," distributing a total of 1,402,820 food packs to typhoon survivors, a Palace officials said.

“Relief continues to reach Yolanda-affected areas in Central Visayas. Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas reports that, since relief operations started on November 9 and until November 23, a total of 1,402,820 food packs have been distributed," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Monday.

Yolanda, the world's strongest typhoon to hit this year, caused catastrophic damage in the Philippines early this month.

"According to Secretary Roxas, given the amount of relief distributed, most municipalities have been provided with 3 to 4 rounds of relief. On November 23, the Secretary reports that 112,071 food packs were distributed to Leyte, with Tacloban City receiving 20,382. For Eastern Samar, 33,460 food packs were distributed," Lacierda stressed.

The government is working hard to immediately restore normalcy in areas devastated by super typhoon, Lacierda said.

"Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, who was tasked by the President to be the overall coordinator for the preparation of relief items, says that, in order to prepare 150,000 family packs per day, the government must purchase 1.2 million pesos worth of canned goods, 1.2 million pesos worth of noodles, 1.2 million pesos worth of instant coffee, and 18,000 sacks of rice," Lacierda said.

"Each family pack contains 6 kilos of rice, 8 canned goods, 8 packets of noodles, and 8 sachets of instant coffee. The Secretary reports that 2 million family packs were prepared for shipping and distribution on November 24," he said.

In response to the directive of President Benigno S. Aquino III to restore normalcy to affected communities, concerned government agencies are speeding up the transition of relief efforts into the full-scale rehabilitation and rebuilding of the areas damaged by the super typhoon

"Sec. Purisima notes that relief preparations undertaken by the government are unprecedented in the country’s history. With massive relief efforts underway, the use of military trucks and ships are spread across the affected areas. Government units are also making sure that all relief items are accounted for and equally distributed," Lacierda said.

"Sec. Purisima also clarifies that for international aid, foreign donors course these through their respective organizations, which have their own distribution facilities. To date, foreign financial aid pledged totals more than 343 million US dollars or over 14.9 billion pesos. This is in addition to the pledges of the World Bank and the ADB to provide the country concessional loans," he said. PND (js)

Christmas tree brings cheer to city hall employees in Yolanda-hit Tacloban

(TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte) It may not be as fancy as those found in malls and hotels in Metro Manila, but it is bringing cheer and hope to a city that needs both badly.
Visitors to City Hall here were attracted Monday to a Christmas tree and small Christmas lights near the City Assessors' Office.

The tree, less than three feet tall, was placed atop a small table, and decorated with poinsettias and Christmas lights - weeks after Super Typhoon Yolanda (Yolanda) devastated this city.

"Ngayong umaga lang iyan nilagay (It was put there just this morning)," said City Assessors' Office OIC Danilo Demillo.

He said the Christmas decoration came a bit earlier compared to past years, when City Hall would not start decorating until the first week of December.

But he said it was still welcome as it cheered up the employees, who he said still hope to get a yearend bonus despite the destruction brought by Yolanda.

When asked if the Christmas tree and decor helped boost the employees' morale, he said it did.

"Parang ... Kasi Christmas, maligaya siguro (In a way it lifted our spirits because Christmas is associated with joy)," he said.

Tacloban is one of the areas hardest hit by Yolanda when it devastated Visayas and Southern Luzon last Nov. 8. Yolanda left more than 5,000 dead. PND (jl)

PIA News Dispatch - Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tacloban folk continue recovery from 'Yolanda'

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte) Unlike the first days after super typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan) hit, more residents came out of their homes Sunday to resume everyday life.

Many went to Mass while others cleaned up their surroundings, even as some prepared to watch the telecast of the boxing match between Filipino hero and Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao and Brandon Rios.

President Benigno Aquino III came here last week to personally oversee rehabilitation work and assure residents of government action to help the recovery.

Last week saw the resumption of many businesses including banks.

Police and military forces also keep watch against criminality.

Tacloban City was a virtual ghost town after Yolanda battered it and other parts of the Visayas last Nov. 8.

Initially, few people went out of their houses in the first few days after Yolanda struck. PND (jl)

Mass held for 'Yolanda' fatalities at Tacloban gravesite

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte)  A Mass in memory of people who lost their lives from super typhoon "Yolanda" two weeks ago was held at a gravesite here Sunday morning.

Capt. Elmer Basas of the Army's 8th Infantry Division presided over the Mass at a gravesite in Barangay Suhi here.

Members of Task Force Yolanda attended the Mass, where Basas blessed the uninterred remains afterward.

Ruel Pedrosa, a caretaker at the site, said there may be as many as 700 remains at this site, 400 of them not yet buried.

He said many go to the site to see if some of the remains there were those of their relatives

Tacloban was among the areas hit hard by Yolanda, which devastated Visayas and Southern Luzon Nov. 8, and left more than 5,000 dead. PND (jl)

President Aquino orders Environment Secretary Ramon Paje to devise a comprehensive environment program

President Benigno S. Aquino III has directed Environment Secretary Ramon Paje to devise a comprehensive environment protection program to minimize the impact of storm surges, floodings and calamities following the devastation brought by super-typhoon "Yolanda" (internationally known as Haiyan), Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr. said.

"Ang pagbulusok ng alon bunsod ng bagyo o storm surge ay nagdulot ng matinding hagupit sa mga libu-libong mamamayang naninirahan sa baybaying-dagat o coastline ng Tacloban City at sa iba pang mga bayan ng Leyte, Samar, at marami pang lugar," Coloma said in an interview aired over government-run radio station DzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Sunday.

"Dahil dito, inatasan ni Pangulong Aquino si DENR Secretary Ramon Paje na maghanda ng komprehensibong programa ng environment protection bilang tugon sa storm surge at mga peligrong dulot ng bagyo, baha, at iba pang kalamidad," he said.

The President also directed Paje to impose a rule prohibiting building commercial and residential structures along the seashore.

"Bahagi sa kautusan ng Pangulo sa DENR ay ang pagtatakda ng mga ‘no build zone’ sa baybaying-dagat para matiyak ang paglipat ng mga dating naninirahan doon sa mga ligtas na resettlement area. Hatid ni bagyong ‘Yolanda’ ang storm surge na tila hindi ganap na napaghandaan dahil sa kakulangan ng pag-unawa at tuwirang karanasan hinggil dito," he said.

The Communications Secretary said Yolanda's destruction was no different from what typhoon Sendong (international name Washi) did to the country in late 2011.

"Hawig ito sa ating mga nakaraang karanasan nang hinampas ng bagyong ‘Sendong’ ang mga lungsod ng Iligan at Cagayan de Oro noong Disyembre 2011. Daan-daan ang nasawi dahil nakatira sila sa mga natuyong bahagi ng ilog at inland waterways na minarkahan nang danger zones batay sa siyentipikong geohazard mapping na isinagawa ng Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) ng DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources)," he said.

Coloma said typhoon "Pablo" (Bopha) also caused catastrophic damage in the Philippines. Pablo was the strongest tropical cyclone to ever hit the southern Philippine island of Mindanao in December, 2012.

"Dahil sa bagyong ‘Pablo’ na humagupit sa Davao Oriental at Compostela Valley, natutunan natin ang hinggil sa debris flow, ang malakas at mabilis na pagdaloy ng mga malalaking bato o boulder, mula sa kabundukan na nagpalala sa pagguho at paglubog ng mga komunidad na nauna nang tinukoy bilang lugar ng panganib sa landslides batay din sa geohazard mapping," he said.

"Kasama rin sa direktiba ng Pangulo sa DENR ang pagpapabalik ng mga mangrove, ang natural na proteksyon sa mga baybaying-dagat. Inihahanda na ang mga mangrove plantation at agarang sisimulan ang pagtatanim dahil mula lima hanggang pitong taon ang pagpapalaki dito," he said.

Aquino directed on Thursday to form a task group to hasten the transition of relief efforts into the full-scale rehabilitation and rebuilding of the areas damaged by Yolanda.

The task group will focus on five priorities namely , shelter and reconstruction, livelihood and employment, resettlement and psycho-social care, environmental protection, and resource generation and allocation. PND (js)

Department of Labor and Employment beefs up emergency employment program

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is beefing up its emergency employment program in a bid to alleviate the plight of workers displaced by super typhoon "Yolanda" (internationally known as Haiyan), Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr. said.

"Patuloy ang pag-aagapay ng pamahalaan sa pagbabagong-tatag at pagpapanumbalik ng normal na pamumuhay ng ating mga kababayan. Puspusan ang pagpapatupad ng DOLE ng emergency employment program upang bigyan ng pansamantalang pagkakakitaan ang ating mga kababayan,” Coloma said in an interview aired over government-run radio station dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Sunday.

The emergency employment program aims at helping disaster-stricken families to rebuild their lives by providing them with better access to sustainable income sources, the Communications Secretary said.

"Halos 3,000 residente mula sa 22 barangay sa Tacloban at 70 barangay sa Ormoc ang nakikinabang na sa naturang programa. Kabilang na rin po dito ang mga katulad na programa na cash-for-work o food-for-work na isinasagawa ng DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) at iba pang ahensya tulad ng Department of Agriculture," Coloma said.

"Ang mga manggagawa ay tumutulong sa paglilinis ng mga daan, palengke at plaza, pag-aalis ng bara sa mga estero at daluyang-tubig, at pagtatayo ng mga mahahalagang pampublikong gusali at paaralan. Ayon sa DOLE, papalawigin pa ang programa sa iba pang mga bayan at rehiyon sa mga darating na araw," he said.

Coloma pointed out that the International Labor Organization (ILO) is helping the government put in place an emergency employment program to help the Filipinos who lost their livelihoods due to the devastation brought by Yolanda.

"Nagpapasalamat din tayo sa inaalok na tulong ng ILO na maglalaan ng hanggang sa 300-milyong dolyar para sa cash-for-work program para sa humigit kumulang na 290,000 katao sa mga bayan ng Tacloban, Roxas, Busuanga sa Palawan, Hilagang Cebu, at mga lalawigan ng Negros Occidental at Bohol na nasalanta ng kalamidad," he said. PND (js)

Palace congratulates Manny Pacquiao on his victory against Brandon Rios

World boxing icon and Filipino people’s champ Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Pacquiao bounced back big from his two consecutive defeats after conquering Brandon Rios via a unanimous decision that had MalacaƱang and the entire Philippines celebrating.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda welcomed the good news on behalf of the Palace, calling Pacquiao’s latest victory as a "well of strength" and "inspiration" for the whole country, especially since we are still nursing the devastation wrought by super typhoon "Yolanda" in the Visayas region recently.

“Nagbubunyi ang sambayanang Pilipino sa panibagong tagumpay ni Congressman Manny Pacquiao sa kaniyang pagwawagi ng WBO (World Boxing Organization) International Welterweight Belt kontra kay Brandon Rios,” Lacierda said.

Thirty-four year-old Pacquiao, who is also a representative of Sarangani province, cruised to a convincing win after 12 rounds of boxing in Macau with all three judges scoring almost every round to his favor.

“Sa loob ng 12 rounds, nagpakita ng hindi matatawarang bilis at lakas ang ating pambansang kamao upang magapi ang kaniyang kalaban, at muling makamit ang tagumpay sa loob ng ring,” Lacierda added in his statement.

“Ang pagwawagi ni Manny sa labang ito ay nagsisilbing bukal ng lakas at inspirasyon ng buong sambayanan matapos hagupitin ng bagyong Yolanda ang malaking bahagi ng Kabisayaan. Nawa’y hindi magbago ang prinsipyong gumagabay sa kanyang bawat laban: na bawat suntok na kaniyang binibitawan ay suntok para sa dangal ng ating lahi,” he concluded. PND (hdc)

Yolanda survivors cheer Pacquiao win

TACLOBAN CITY) Survivors of super typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan) here raised their voices in triumph after boxing icon and Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao triumphed over Brandon Rios in Macau.

Many of the survivors here trooped to the city convention center where the bout was shown. The center is a short walk from a tent city housing many of the survivors.

They brought out Philippine flags that they raised when Pacquiao would score a punch on his younger opponent.

Pacquiao had dedicated his fight to the victims of Yolanda, which left 5,000 dead after battering Visayas and Southern Luzon last Nov. 8.

But some still want Pacquiao to personally visit them and bring help.

"Sana matulungan kami sa Tacloban ... Sana pumunta siya rito sa Tacloban (We hope he can help us here, we hope he can come here)," said Jun Jun Mabini, who was nevertheless happy with the win.

Earlier, residents of this city went to City Hall and the RTR Plaza to watch the airing of the bout.

Many brought umbrellas to protect themselves from the heat, and patiently sat at the venue to wait for the telecast of the fight to start. PND (jl)

Department of Health maximizes better public health and nutrition programs for residents in calamity zones

The Department of Health (DOH) is maximizing its efforts to provide the residents, including women and children, in calamity zones with better public health and nutrition programs following the devastation brought by super typhoon "Yolanda" (internationally known as Haiyan), Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr. said.

"Tinututukan nang husto ng Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) at DOH ang kapakanan ng mga ina, sanggol, at mga bata. Handa ang mga pasilidad ng DOH sa pagtulong at pagkalinga sa tinatayang 800,000 mga inang nagdadalang-tao, malapit nang manganak, o bagong panganak pa lamang," Coloma said in an interview aired over government-run radio station DzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Sunday.

The DOH deployed several medical teams to provide emergency and basic medical and surgical services to affected areas in Eastern Visayas.

"May sapat na OB o obstetrics kits para sa panganganak. May sapat ding bilang ng mga komadrona o midwives na handang tumulong sa panganganak," the Communications Secretary said.

"Dahil sa bagong ipinalabas ng Tanggapan ng Pangulo na Memorandum Circular 61, pansamantalang pinapangasiwaan ngayon ng DOH ang mga health and sanitation facilities sa mga lungsod at bayan sa sona ng kalamidad, habang abala ang mga alkalde at mga LGU sa mga programa ng post-typhoon relief and rehabilitation," he said.

The DOH also started to focus more on public health as threats of epidemics loom in vulnerable communities.

"Prayoridad ngayon ng DOH ang pagbakuna laban sa tigdas o measles, polio, at tetanus. Hinggil naman sa pagtawag pansin ni Ms. Valerie Amos ng UN (United Nations) sa panganib ng malnutrisyon na maaaring hinaharap ng hanggang sa 1.5 milyong kabataan o children sa sona ng kalamidad, may sapat pong imprastrakturang itinatag ang DSWD sa pamamagitan ng National Nutrition Council nito kaagapay ang DOH sa aspeto ng micronutrition o pamamahagi ng mga bitamina," he said. (js)

Aquino government open for enactment of a law against political dynasty

The Aquino government is open for the enactment of a law against political dynasties saying it is consistent with the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr. said.

"Ito po ay isang reporma na matagal nang hinihintay sa ating bansa dahil ito ay bunsod pa noong EDSA People Power Revolution na siyang naging batayan ng 1987 Constitution na kung saan naman unang nailagay ang prinsipyo ng anti-dynasty," Coloma said in an interview aired over government-run radio station DzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Sunday.

Article II Section 26 of the 1987 Constitution states that "The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law."

"Kaya malinaw naman po ang batayan niyan, ito ay kasama sa mga reporma ng EDSA People Power na nakalagay sa 1987 Constitution," the Communications Secretary said.

"Kaya lang po, kailangan ding marinig natin ang tinig ng mga mambabatas na siya namang hinalal din ng ating mga mamamayan para makita ‘yung magiging final na hugis nitong anti-dynasty bill," Coloma said.

Third District Pampanga Representative Oscar Rodriguez, chairman of the House Committee on Good Government, filed House Bill 2911 which provides for an anti-dynasty law in the country.

The bill is seeking to equalize access to opportunities in public office by banning the practice of political families that alternately field its members to various elective post to maintain control of local or national government positions. PND (js)

Comelec is all set for special barangay elections for Bohol and Zamboanga City on November 25, Coloma says

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is all set for the special barangay elections for Bohol province and Zamboanga City on November 25, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr. said.

"Sa amin pong mga natanggap na ulat ay sapat ang kahandaan ng ating Commission on Elections sa pagsasagawa ng special elections sa Bohol at Zamboanga," Coloma said in an interview aired over government-run radio station dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Sunday.

The barangay elections was held on October 28 throughout the country except in Bohol province and Zamboanga City.

The poll body suspended the barangay polls in Bohol, which was devastated by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake.

The Comelec also suspended elections in Zamboanga City due to the standoff between the military and the Moro National Liberation Front rebels.

"Umaasa po tayo na magiging maayos ang kaganapang ‘yan at pipili ang mga mamamayan ng mga kwalipikado at mahuhusay na pinuno para po mapabilis ang rehabilitasyon ng kanilang mga lugar," the Communications Secretary said.

The Comelec set the special elections in the two areas on Nov. 25 as Republic Act 9164 specifies that the term of the incumbent barangay officials must end on November 30. PND (js)

Tacloban-based 'Yolanda' survivors thanks Pacquiao with painted sign

TACLOBAN CITY) What better way to thank boxing icon and Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao for giving them a timely morale boost than with a big thank-you?

Residents of Real Street here on Sunday afternoon painted a huge sign thanking Pacquiao for his win over Brandon Rios.

"Mabuhay! Manny Pacquiao Pambansang Kamao, (from) Yolanda survivors," read the sign.

Residents said the sign will be displayed  on the street.

Hours earlier, Pacquiao outclassed Rios in a match the Filipino boxing hero had dedicated to the victims of super typhoon Yolanda.

Tacloban residents were hit hard by Yolanda, which left more than 5,000 dead after it lashed Visayas and Southern Luzon. PND (jl)

PIA News Dispatch - Saturday, November 23, 2013

Task Force Yolanda tries cheering Yolanda-hit Tacloban City with Christmas carols

(TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte) Hoping to lift the spirits of residents here following the destruction caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), officials have started playing Christmas tunes in some areas here.

Brig. Gen. Jet Velarmino, head of Task Force Yolanda, said they started going around some areas Friday, playing carols using a portable sound system.

"Perhaps baka makatulong (We hope to lift their spirits by playing Christmas songs)," Velarmino said Saturday.

Tacloban City is one of the areas hit hard by Yolanda, which as of Saturday morning had left more than 5,000 dead.

The extent of Yolanda's destruction had triggered an outpouring of support for the Philippines from the international community.

For his part, Task Force Yolanda deputy commander Col. Emmanuel Cacdac said the initial feedback was that the carols "elicited a lot of smiles."

Meanwhile, Velarmino said residents here are now rebuilding their homes. PND (jl)

For boy swept by Yolanda's floods, tearful reunion ends 2-week search for kin

(TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte) For a seven-year-old boy swept away by super typhoon "Yolanda's" floods, tearful reunion with his lolo on Saturday finally ended a two-week search for his relatives.

Seven-year-old Miguel was reunited with his grandfather Numeriano Berenguer, 59, at Task Force Yolanda headquarters here.

"Nagpapasalamat ako sa mga kumupkop kay Miguel," Mang Numeriano said.

Brig. Gen. Jet Velarmino, head of Task Force Yolanda, said Miguel was swept away by floodwaters when a storm surge hit their house in Barangay San Jose here last Nov. 8.

Yolanda pounded parts of Visayas and Southern Luzon, leaving behind at least 5,000 dead.

Velarmino said Miguel kept afloat by hanging on to a coconut tree trunk.

The boy was rescued by Philippine Air Force Tactical Operations Group 8 Col. Fermin Carangan, who himself was also trying to keep afloat at the time after his office was also hit by the storm surge.

The waters swept Carangan and Miguel to Basey in Samar province, another area hit by Yolanda.

But Miguel's ordeal is not quite over, as a search is still ongoing for three more relatives, including his five-year-old sibling. PND (jl)

Palace says it won’t be part of any delay in Maguindanao massacre case trial

Malacanang made an assurance that it is committed to making sure that there is no delay in the ongoing trial of the Maguindanao massacre case and that it won’t be part of any delay.

“The commitment on the Executive is just to continue making sure that there is no delay and that we are not part of the delay,” Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday.

Valte said the Palace shares the public view of having a speedy resolution of the case. But ensuring a successful litigation does not solely rely on the hand of the executive branch since the case is already in court, she said.

The President’s instruction on government prosecutors is to make sure there are no delays in resolving the case, she said, adding the government will fight the attempts of the defense to delay the trial.

Asked to comment on the statement of Judge Jocelyn Solis who said that by 2016 the court could come up with a verdict on the Maguindanao case, Valte said the Palace respects the court and like the Filipino public, it hopes for immediate resolution of the case.

But the Palace also acknowledged the stumbling blocks that the trial may face, considering the very complex nature of the case. She said the pace may be affected by the huge number of witnesses, and the number of respondents, and also the number of testimonies being heard.

Rights advocates and the media commemorate the infamous Maguindanao massacre in its 4th year anniversary today.

On Nov. 23, 2009, 58 people were slaughtered in the country’s worst election-related violence allegedly committed by the Ampatuan clan in Mindanao.

Although 104 people have been arraigned including eight principal accused from the Ampatuan family, at least 88 of their coaccused remain at large. PND (as)

Aquino thanks world leaders for support after typhoon Yolanda’s onslaught

President Benigno S. Aquino expressed his gratitude to several world leaders in a telephone conversation Friday for the support they extended to the Philippines following the devastation of Typhoon Yolanda two weeks ago.

Among the world leaders the President has spoken with were Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview Saturday.

The President as well as the Filipino people are very thankful for all the expressions of solidarity that the country’s neighbors have extended, Valte told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

“Nagpapasalamat po ang Pangulo para sa lahat ng pagtulong na ipinadala sa atin ng mga bansang ito,” she said.

Valte said the President is glad receiving assurances from other countries that in case the Philippines needs additional assistance these countries are ready to offer help.

Even during the calls that the President received from British Prime Minister David Cameron as well as US President Barack Obama, those leaders extended a message of hope, according to Valte.

“The President did mention that it matters because… It’s important for us as a people at this time to know that our neighbors are here and that our neighbors are helping us and that there will be other nations who will be rooting for our recovery,” she said.

Valte also mentioned the emergency loan that the World Bank has offered the Philippines amounting to close to $1 billion for the country’s reconstruction initiative.

The World Bank announced earlier this week a loan offer of $500 million and the additional $480 million that it called the National Community Driven Development Project, Valte said.

There is already a group from the World Bank helping Filipino officials put together a rehabilitation plan. They are also giving their own inputs and have discussed some of the details of the emergency loan that the World Bank has announced earlier this week, Valte added.

World Bank’s disaster specialists are also helping Philippine authorities assess the damage of Typhoon Yolanda and determine the areas that need immediate recovery and reconstruction support, she said.

The country can benefit from the group’s vast experience in post disaster work after having extensive works in disaster areas in Turkey, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Haiti, Valte said. PND (as)

Leyte governor thankful for $24K addition from Pau Gasol to Yolanda relief fund

(TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte) Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla on Saturday expressed gratitude for a $24,000 addition to relief funds for Super Typhoon "Yolanda" from Los Angeles Lakers superstar Pau Gasol.

Petilla said his province, which was hit hard by Yolanda, appreciates any contribution for help, no matter how small it may seem.

"Kahit kaliit, malaki na sa amin yan. Anything kahit maliit, it's very big para sa amin (Even if some may not consider it big, to us it would be a big deal)," Petilla said after a meeting with ranking government officials including Secretaries Florencio Abad (budget) and Corazon Soliman (social welfare) here.

The meeting had sought to assess the damage to the province brought by Yolanda, which has so far left at least 5,000 dead.

On Saturday, Gasol scored 24 points to lead the Lakers to a 102-97 win over the Golden State Warriors.

Gasol had tweeted he would pledge $1,000 for every point he would score in the game against the Warriors.

He also urged people to pledge any amount to the relief fund. PND (jl)

Red Cross ship arrives to give more aid to Yolanda-affected residents of Samar

(TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte) Residents in Samar affected by super typhoon "Yolanda" may get more help for their health needs, with the arrival Saturday of a vessel of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

ICRC spokesperson Atishay Abbhi said the vessel brought with it basic health care facilities, including a surgical unit and water tank.

"We have ICRC teams proceeding to Basey and Guiuan in Samar," Abbhi said.

Yolanda had devastated parts of Visayas and Southern Luzon last Nov. 8, and left more than 5,000 dead in its wake.

Abbhi said the ICRC teams are working with teams from the Philippine Red Cross.

The said the vessel has a surgical unit heading for Samar, as well as materials for restoring water service to Basey also in Samar.

"We have a team proceeding to Basey to help restore the water networks," he said. PND (jl)