Monday, 3 February 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Friday, January 31, 2014

President Aquino orders Cabinet to draw up disaster preparedness roadmap in time for rainy season

President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday ordered the Cabinet to draw up a comprehensive disaster preparedness plan in time for the rainy season in June.

Following a Cabinet meeting in Malacañang, the President wants the road map formally adopted for implementation before the onset of the rainy season in June.

The plan may include advisory systems for storm surges and floods to better warn residents about the dangers from a cyclone, which were presented at Thursday's meeting.

Priority areas of focus include highly vulnerable high-population areas such as Metro Manila; and how to restart the economy after a major disaster.

Making up the Cabinet task group are the secretaries of the Department of National Defense, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, National Climate Change Commission, and the Department of Trade and Industry.

During the Cabinet meeting, proposed advisory systems were presented for storm surges and floods. Storm Surge Advisories (SSAs), to be given 48 hours in advance, include:

SSA No. 1: a storm surge height of up to two meters, SSA No. 2: up to five meters, SSA No. 3: more than five meters. The storm surge disaster risk reduction efforts aim to:

- reduce exposure in the coastal areas by implementing ‘no-build’ zones

– develop natural barriers and construction of man-made barriers to reduce impact of hazard

– home, building and infrastructure resiliency.

Also proposed was a flood advisory (FA) system that includes:

FA No. 1: up to 129 mm rainfall within the next 24 hours, FA No. 2: up to 190 mm rainfall, FA No. 3: up to 240 mm rainfall.

At the Cabinet meeting, DOST Secretary Mario Montejo and Project NOAH Executive Director Mahar Lagmay presented results of various simulation studies on storm surges, floods, and landslides, using data for the last 50 years to project future trends. PND (jl)

Palace: PARR adopts 4 pilot areas for Yolanda rehabilitation

The government has adopted four pilot areas for rehabilitation in the wake of super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), Malacañang said Friday.

Presidential Assistant on Reconstruction and Recovery Panfilo M. Lacson presented an update on rehabilitation efforts during Thursday's Cabinet meeting.

Identified as pilot areas for rehabilitation were:

- Tacloban City: the hardest-hit area, the economic center of Eastern Visayas, and the regional logistical hub

- Tanauan, Leyte: tourism potential and build-back capacity

- Guiuan, Eastern Samar: high level of private sector interest

- Biliran: government-led programs.

Lacson also cited the active support of development and sectoral sponsors from the country’s biggest corporations, which he said volunteered to head rehabilitation efforts in 24 areas within the calamity zone.

Yolanda left behind at least 6,200 dead after devastating the Visayas and Southern Luzon areas last November.

Meanwhile, the President ordered the Departments of Interior and Local Government, National Defense and Social Welfare and Development to complete post-disaster needs assessment reports for the 171 towns and cities hit by Yolanda.

This will serve as a basis for the implementaiton of recovery and rehabilitation efforts.

Also, the President ordered the immediate completion of land-use plans that would clearly delineate no-build zones. PND (jl)

President Aquino approves abolition of 3 PDAF-linked GOCCs

President Benigno Aquino III has approved the abolition of three government-owned and controlled corporations linked to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) mess.

In a statement, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said this was in pursuit of maximizing efficiency and promoting accountability.

"The decision to abolish them was based on a financial viability and relevance to national development plans study conducted by the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG), which is the regulatory agency for such corporations," Valte added.

"From the start of his administration, President Aquino has pursued a policy of promoting efficiency in government corporations, to ensure that they serve as a means for fostering national development and not as a conduit or facilitator of selfish agendas and crimes," she added.

She noted these GOCCs had been implicated as conduits of fake PDAF allocations. They include:

- Philippine Forest Corporation (PFC)

- ZNAC Rubber Estate (ZREC)

- National Agri-Business Corporation (NABCOR).

"Seeing that the three agencies neither fulfill the purposes for which they were created, nor had a tangible social impact, and that furthermore, they were no longer financially viable, the President gave his clearance for the formation of a Technical Working Group to wind down operations and transfer relevant functions and operations, as well as to attend to the separation pay for employees in keeping with Civil Service rules," Valte said.

But she added any separation packages will be withheld for those found to have committed graft or other corrupt practices.

Also, Valte said these GOCCs may not be the last to be abolished.

"More GOCCs may be abolished as the GCG fulfills its mandate to rationalize the government-owned and controlled corporations of the country," she said. PND (jl)

President Aquino cites up Medical Alumni Fund contribution for advancement of comprehensive health care

President Benigno S. Aquino III has cited the University of the Philippines Medical Alumni Fund Inc. (UPMAF) for its contribution for the advancement of comprehensive health care in the Philippines.

"Your government is pleased by the efforts of the UPMAF and its partners to organize events such as this, which signify the role of sports, exercise, and proper nutrition in the promotion of health and wellness among our citizens," the Chief Executive said in his message to UPMAF on the occasion of the 21st Grand Scientific Symposium on Friday.

In collaboration with the Post Graduate Institute of Medicine of the University of the Philippines–College of Medicine, the UPMAF opened on Friday the symposium which has for its theme “Sports Medicine and Wellness.” The symposium will end on Saturday.

Health care providers from all over the country also attended the traditional activity that aims to upgrade academic excellence and progressive leadership in medical education.

"Your steps to provide a platform for personal and professional development redound to the welfare of your members and patients: May you continue to push boundaries and blaze new trails for the advancement of comprehensive health care in the Philippines," the President said.

"The Filipinos’ continuing search for self-improvement and excellence does our country proud; this challenge becomes even greater in today’s rapidly changing milieu. Let us render our abilities into endeavors that uplift our lives and those of our countrymen, as, together, we fortify the foundations of our nation," he said. PND (js)

President Aquino urges Bangsamoro Transition Commission to fast-track drafting of Bangsamoro Basic Law

President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday urged the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) to draw up soonest the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law so it can be ratified and implemented in time for the 2016 elections.

The President met members of the BTC in Malacañan Palace Thursday, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles said.

"The President urged the BTC to fast-track the completion of the draft Bangsamoro basic law (BBL) to ensure its passage and ratification with enough time to complete the transition tasks in time for the 2016 elections," Deles said.

She added the President stressed the need for the BTC to be transparent and to reach out to all sectors concerned, including those initially resisting the new political entity.

Also, President Aquino assured the commission of the national government's full technical and political support, guidance and advice, as well as budget.

Deles said the President told them he would give as much of his own time as necessary.

She described the atmosphere of Thursday's meeting as "warm and relaxed," where the BTC updated the President on the work they have been doing and the concerns they are facing.

BTC was created in December 2012 to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law that will pave the way for the establishment of the Bangsamoro region in 2016.

It has 15 members appointed by the President, eight of whom were recommended by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and seven were recommended by the government.

Last weekend, negotiators from the government and the MILF signed an annex that would pave the way for a comprehensive peace pact.

A statement from Deles' office said the Bangsamoro basic law draft is likely to be certified as an urgent bill by the President.

It would then be submitted to Congress for passage, and subjected to a plebiscite in the areas envisioned to be the new political entity's core territory. PND (jl)