Wednesday, 19 February 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, February 17, 2014

President Aquino meets Miss Tourism International Angeli Dione Gomez

The last Filipina to win an international beauty title in 2013 paid a courtesy call on President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday.

President Aquino shook hands with Miss Tourism International 2013/2014 Angeli Dione Gomez Monday morning at the Music Room of Malacañan Palace.

With Gomez at her courtesy call on the President was Mutya ng Pilipinas president Jacqueline Tan.

Gomez, 20, bagged the international title in the last hours of 2013 in Malaysia.

She will now be a traveling ambassador to promote tourism and cultural exchanges.

Miss Tourism International is touted by its organizers to be the only New Year's Eve pageant "that plays host to more than 59 international beauty queens from around the world."

It started in 1994 and has set its mark in more than 76 countries.

Angeli Dione Gomez, the third Filipino to win the title succeeds Rizzini Alexis Gomez, the 2012 Miss Tourism International who also happens to be from Cebu City, but the two are not related.

In Year 2000, it was Maria Esperanza Manzano who first won the title. With Angeli wearing the crown this year, the Philippines now holds the record with the most number of titles in this pageant. PND (jl)

Investment forum, ISF model building inauguration, meet with SF mayor to highlight President Aquino's week

Attracting more foreign investments at a forum and inaugurating a medium-rise building model unit for informal settlers will highlight President Benigno S. Aquino III's week, Malacañang said Monday.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the President will attend the third Euromoney Philippines Investment Forum, where he will highlight his administration's economic achievements stemming from good governance.

"The President will also talk about the administration's continued commitment to making our economic growth sustainable and even more inclusive," Lacierda said.

Also this week, President Aquino will inaugurate the Estero de San Miguel medium-rise building model unit for informal settler families.

Lacierda said the new unit has an "innovative" design that can fit into the available narrow lot outside the three-meter easement along the estero.

Such a structure can house up to 16 families in its initial phase, he said.

"This is part of the administration's strategy to help more informal settlers live dignified lives in safer communities," he added.

Also this week, the President will meet San Francisco City Mayor Edwin Lee and the San Francisco-Manila Sister City Committee delegation, as they pay him a courtesy call.

Lacierda said Lee is the first Asian American to head San Francisco, and played a major role in "fostering a sense of solidarity among the many immigrant groups in the city, one of which is the growing Filipino-American community."

He noted Lee and the committee expressed their support for the survivors of super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

"Their visit to our country reaffirms their solidarity and friendship with our people," he said.

Lacierda said this week's activities seek to reaffirm the Aquino administration's policy "to leave no one behind, as we tread the straight path to greater progress and development." PND (jl)

Give retired PNP Exec chance at Human Rights Board, Palace asks public

Malacañang on Monday appealed to the public to give retired police Director Lina Sarmiento a chance to prove herself as head of a board overseeing the distribution of some P10 billion in compensation to Martial Law victims.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Sarmiento is considered a "security sector reformist," and deserves at least a chance to show her worth as head of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board.

"Let's give her a chance. Kasama niya rito sa board maraming narekomendang human rights advocates (Let's give her a chance. Besides, the board also has many human rights advocates who had been highly recommended)," Lacierda said at a media briefing.

Some former political detainees had questioned Sarmiento's appointment to the board, noting her job is to deal with victims of alleged abuse by state forces - including the police - during Martial Law.

During her stint in the Philippine National Police, Sarmiento had been assigned to head the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office.

Sarmiento also has the distinction of being the police force's first female police general. She was later promoted to a two-star rank. PND (jl)

President Aquino declares February 28 as a special non-working day in the City of Escalante, Province of Negros Occidental in celebration of its 13th Charter Day

President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared February 28, which falls on a Friday, as a special (non-working) day in the city of Escalante in the province of Negros Occidental in celebration of its 13th Charter Day.

The Chief Executive issued the declaration through Proclamation No. 718 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on February 7 to give the people of Escalante City the full opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occasion with appropriate ceremonies.

On February 28, 2001, Escalante became a city by virtue of Republic Act No. 9014. The cityhood was ratified by its residents in a plebiscite held on March 31, 2001. PND (js)

Philippine Development Plan midterm update aims to ensure sustainability and inclusiveness of the country's economic growth, Balisacan says

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has updated the Philippine Development Plan: 2011-2016 (PDP) to ensure sustainability and inclusiveness of the country's rapid economic growth, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said.

Balisacan presented during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Monday the updates on macroeconomic policy, financial sector, good governance and the rule of law, industry and services, agriculture and fisheries, infrastructure, environment and natural resources, social development, among others.

The Philippine Development Plan Midterm Update spells out the government’s roadmap for inclusive growth, Balisacan said.

"Overall, the ultimate goal of the updated Plan is inclusive growth. Accomplishments will be measured primarily in terms of economic growth, to an average of 7-8 percent until 2016, reduction in unemployment to 6.5-6.7 percent in 2016 and the incidence of income poverty to 18 to 20 percent," Balisacan said.

"In addition, we are committing to quality of life targets: raise the quality of employment and overall quality of life. The former will be reflected as a reduction of underemployment to about 17 percent in 2016 and the latter, as a reduction of the incidence of multidimensional poverty incidence to 16-18 percent," the Socioeconomic Planning Secretary said.

The PDP midterm update will highlight high and sustained economic growth; growth that generates mass employment; and growth that reduces poverty and facilitates the achievement of the millennium development goals.

"Multidimensional poverty incidence, unlike income poverty, looks at deprivation in various dimensions – health, education, access to water, sanitation, secure housing, etc. This indicator can then track the supposed outcomes of the different human development strategies, which impact on future income poverty." he said.

"Accelerating job creation requires building up of capital. Investments must continually rise for the economy to continue to grow and this requires a stable and predictable market environment. Thus, we should maintain positive expectations of consumer and business sectors through macroeconomic stability, a strong financial system, and a healthy external sector," Balisacan said.

Balisacan emphasized the need to raise productivity and sustain growth in the agriculture, industry, and services sectors.

"Reducing the cost of doing business in the country will continue to be a priority, consistent with the platform of good governance, and in order to encourage more investments. This requires addressing infrastructure bottlenecks, improving connectivity and increasing the availability of highly trainable and skilled labor," he said.

The plan aims to substantially reduce poverty by improving the skill sets of the poorest families and undertake more aggressive employment facilitation for better job-skills match especially concerning the poor.

"We believe that the key is to directly address the constraints faced by the poor, set against a backdrop of rapid and sustained growth. These constraints operate in a highly diverse, fragmented and hazard prone environment," he said.

"Some cities or provinces have been experiencing economic growth, but the poorest families are being left behind perhaps because the growing sectors do not require the goods or services that the poor can provide," he said.

"For this reason, we will make use of the data from the National Household Targeting System which identifies the poor households in these provinces by name. We will begin with the growth sectors present in these provinces, then focus on providing auxiliary and ancillary services that could be provided by the poorest families in the province. Based on our growth experience, these sectors could be IT-Business Process Management, tourism, construction, manufacturing, and logistics," he said.

The goverment acknowledges that the overall development of the country is ultimately a product of the dynamism of the private sector, Balisacan said.

"The role of government is to set the necessary policy and regulatory framework and provide public goods and services to catalyze private initiative and encourage efficiency improvements," he said.

The Plan emphasizes the government’s facilitative role in promoting competition and making it easy for firms and entrepreneurs, regardless of size, to do business in the country.

"The updated Plan specifies indicators of efficiency and effectiveness to measure success. The real measure of efficiency is the extent to which private effort has been steered towards the direction laid out in the Plan; effectiveness is the extent to which the well-being of Filipinos has been improved," he said. PND (js)

Country on track to achieving economic targets despite series of disasters, Balisacan says

The country remains on track with respect to its economic targets as laid out in the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016 despite series of calamities, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said.

"Despite the series of natural disasters that hit the country in the latter part of the year, the Philippine economy still expanded by 7.2 percent, improving from the 6.8 % achieved in 2012," the Socioeconomic Planning Secretary said during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Monday.

"This creditable performance was supported by strong macroeconomic fundamentals marked by low and stable inflation, favorable interest rates, sustainable fiscal and external positions and a stable financial sector," he said.

He noted that the country is one of the best performers among Asian economies during the said period.

In fact, Balisacan said the Philippine's credit rating has been upgraded to investment grade for the first time in the country's history.

The upgrade is an affirmation of the confidence of the international business community in the Philippines, he said.

"This has been reinforced by improvements in the Philippines’ ranking in several global competitiveness indices such as the IFC Ease of Doing Business (from rank 140 in 2009 to 108 in 2013) and the Global Competitiveness Report (from 75 in 2011 to 59 in 2013)," Balisacan said.

"In terms of the composition of growth, it is worthy to note the increasing contribution of fixed capital formation from 2 ppts in 2012 to 2.4 ppts in 2013 on the demand side. Equally notable on the supply side is the acceleration of the manufacturing subsector in 2013 as it provided more than three-fourths of the industry’s growth. Both these developments augur well for the growth of quality employment going forward," he said.

Balisacan presented to the media the Philippine Development Plan Midterm Update that spells out the government’s roadmap for inclusive growth.

"I am here today to discuss about the economy, its progress and challenges, and what the government is doing to ensure that economic growth materially improves the lives of the greatest number of our people," he said.

"Although our investment to GDP ratio of 21.1% in 2013 is not too far from our PDP goal of 22% by 2016, this is still way below what our ASEAN neighbors have achieved. Although our unemployment rate has been kept within the targeted range of 6.8-7.2%, a bigger challenge is reducing the underemployment rate, which is still close to 20%. An even bigger challenge is bringing down the poverty rate to 16.6% by 2016 from its 25.2% level in 2012," he said.

"In taking stock of the first three years of the PDP implementation, the lessons became clear. First, good governance is an effective platform upon which strategies should be implemented. Second, macroeconomic and political stability fuels positive expectations that lead to growth," he said.

"Third, economic growth is necessary but not sufficient for poverty reduction. Fourth, development strategies need to have spatial and sectoral dimensions to ensure inclusive growth. Lastly, disasters can negate the gains and even push back development," Balisacan said. PND (js)