Monday, 3 February 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, February 3, 2014

President Aquino encourages responsibility in PHL media

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Sunday evening made a new pitch for responsibility and discernment from the media through sober reporting.

In his speech at the 114th anniversary of the Manila Bulletin in Manila, the President frowned on what he called unnecessary speculation and negativity.

"This is what I have always asked of media: to raise the level of public discourse, instead of fueling unnecessary speculation and negativity that contribute to national apathy," he said.

He said that in the case of the Manila Bulletin, it has chosen not to trump up the worst news possible and cause despair among the public.

Instead, he said the paper has "consistently given them a true accounting of the facts, and reason enough to be optimistic."

But the President clarified this does not mean he wants media to report only the good news.

"The progress of our country can only be accounted for when it is measured against, and in spite of, the challenges that we have endured," he said, adding the Manila Bulletin has lived up to this by "exhibiting discernment and accountability through sober and responsible reporting."

On the other hand, the President noted the Filipino people have chosen the path of positivity and solidarity even in the face of negativity.

He said that in the wake of the devastation brought by super Typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan) last year, Filipinos volunteered to repack relief goods and extend whatever help they can.

"The naysayers, the irrational critics, the vested interests who measure their success through their ability to sacrifice the well-being of the nation to pursue their own, selfish agenda—all of them have been left in the dust by a nation that no typhoon, no faction, and no irresponsible columnist can break," he said.

"Our people have proven themselves more united, more discerning, more cooperative, and in particular, more committed to making change permanent than those who once tried to take advantage of them," he added.

He added Filipinos made so much progress by working and studying hard, paying their taxes, following the rules, to "do their part in lifting our nation."

"They know that, not since 1986 have Filipinos been able to go anywhere in the world and hold their heads high, as we do today. They know this because they took it upon themselves to give us a mandate for change back in 2010, and they have stayed the course ever since," he said. PND (jl)

Department of Education achieves zero backlog in classrooms, President Aquino says

(CARMONA, Cavite) President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Monday that the government finally achieved a zero backlog in classrooms with the construction of 66,813 classrooms.

In his speech during the ceremonial turn-over of the 66,813 classrooms at the Carmona National High School here, the Chief Executive said the Department of Education (DepEd) finally achieved its target of zero backlog last December, 2013.

"Nang maupo tayo sa puwesto, tumambad sa atin ang nakakalulang kakulangan sa sektor ng edukasyon. Kapos tayo sa libro, silya, at mga guro. Mayroon din tayong—eto na po ang pamosong numero—ng 66,800 na kakulangan sa silid-aralan," he said.

President Aquino said the government managed to mobilize partnerships with various government agencies, local government units (LGUs), the private sector and foreign donors to help meet the target.

The classrooms, ranging from one-storey structures to multi-floor buildings, were constructed using national and local government funds and donations from the private sectors.

"At ngayong araw nga po, nasaksihan natin ang ceremonial turnover ng 66,813 na bagong classroom, na bumura din sa ipinamanang backlog ng nakaraang administrasyon. Sa totoo lang po, gaya ng ipinangako ni Secretary Armin Luistro, natapos itong ipatayo noon pang Disyembre. Ang bonus pa nga: nalampasan pa natin ang ating target," the President said.

The President lauded Education Secretary Luistro for his commitment and dedication to provide the basic needs of students such as classrooms, chairs and books, among others.

"Makalipas ang mahigit tatlong taon ng mabuting pamamahala. Ang halos 62 milyon—ulitin ko lang po ‘yan ha—62 milyong kakulangan sa libro, burado na, 2012 pa. At nakuha po natin ‘yan, mas maganda pa ang presyo kaysa sa dinatnan—mga naitipid natin dito mga 40 porsyento, Brother Armin, kung tama ang tanda ko," he said.

"Ang dalawa’t kalahating milyong backlog sa upuan, nairaos na rin po. Naggamit pa natin ang mga troso na iligal ang pagkakuha para siguradong wala nang makinabang sa iligal na gawain." he said.

The President expressed belief that education is the central strategy in reducing poverty and building national competitiveness.

"Ngayong napunuan na ang mga kakulangan ng nakaraan, kompiyansa tayong mas mapapaarangkada pa—hindi lamang ang sektor ng edukasyon—kundi maging ang pag-unlad ng kalakhang lipunan," he said. PND (js)

Palace: President Aquino to have busy week leading to 54th birthday

President Benigno S. Aquino III will have a busy week leading to his 54th birthday on Feb. 8, Malacañang said Monday.

In a statement, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the ceremonial turnover of 66,813 classrooms in Cavite was only the first of several public engagements this week.

Lacierda said the President is also due to receive the Philippine Medical Association of Chicago (PMAC), whose members conduct medical and surgical missions in the Philippines annually.

For this year, he said the PMAC "continue their tradition of helping their countrymen this year by taking their operations to Tacloban City and Palo, Leyte," areas hit hard by super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

At the end of the week, the President will witness the retirement ceremony of Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes, along with the change of command ceremony.

The President will also be the guest of honor at the 50th anniversary and thanksgiving program of the Elsie Gaches Village in Alabang, Muntinlupa.

Elsie Gaches Village is the first and largest government residential care facility for persons with development and learning disabilities.

President Aquino marks his 54th birthday on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Lacierda noted Monday's turnover, which wipes out the 66,800-classroom backlog "sets the tone for the rest of the official week, and in fact, of the year ahead."

"They underscore our administration’s belief that despite the challenges that we have faced and continue to face, so long as we work together, our people can reach new milestones and open new chapters of service, all with the goal of uplifting our countrymen," he said. PND (jl)

President Aquino says government is hiring professionals for 4,000 teaching positions

(CARMONA, Cavite) President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Monday that the Department of Education (DepEd) is presently hiring professionals for 4,000 teaching positions to address the backlogs in teachers in public schools.

In his speech during the ceremonial turn-over of the 66,813 classrooms at the Carmona National High School here, the Chief Executive said the DepEd has yet to fill up all the 103,000 new teaching positions created under his administration.

"Mula 2010 hanggang 2013 naman, nagdagdag tayo ng halos 103 libong posisyon para sa mga guro. Baka pansinin po n’yo, “posisyon.” Sabi ko, “Bakit ‘posisyon?’” May kulang pa raw ho kasi na apat na libong maha-hire," the President said.

"Dati nag-e-export tayo ng teacher, ngayon naghahanap tayo ng teacher—apat na libo, mga specialized po ito, baka may kakilala kayong naghahanap ng trabaho, kulang pa ho tayo ng apat na libo," he said.

The DepEd has hastened the recruitment and hiring process to fill up the positions.

The government finally achieved a zero backlog in classrooms with the construction of 66,813 classrooms, the President said.

"Mulat po tayong hindi pa tapos ang ating misyon, at mayroon pa rin tayong mga pagsubok na dapat lampasan. Marami po ang winasak na paaralan ng mga nagdaang kalamidad, at bawat taon ay nadadagdagan ang mga mag-aaral," he said.

"Sa abot ng ating makakaya, titiyakin nating matutugunan ang batayang pangangailangan sa sektor ng edukasyon; at sisiguruhin nating pati ang magiging pagkukulang sa mga susunod na taon dahil sa K to 12 program ay mapapaghandaan din, matatapos, at hindi mapapamana ang pag-solve sa susunod na administrasyon," he said. PND (js)

Palace maintains PHL government continues to search for peaceful solution with HK

Malacañang on Monday maintained the Philippine government continues to search for a mutually acceptable solution with Hong Kong to provide closure to the row that stemmed from the Manila hostage crisis in 2010.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr. said they continue to work toward an understanding, which he said is the key toward finally achieving the much-needed closure.

"We are still hoping both sides will be able to reach an agreement. Our approach is still to continue on the path of seeking a solution and that is where we continue to be until the present time," he said at a media briefing.

He said the Philippine government has been looking for the best "mutually acceptable" solution.

"Simula noon hanggang ngayon, patuloy nating sinisikap na magkaroon ng common position, ng ganap na pagkakaunawaan para matuldukan ang usaping ito (Since day one, we have been looking for a common position to give closure to this)," he added.

Coloma also said the Philippine government will not take any action that will make both parties stray from their goal of understanding.

"(U)miiwas tayo sa landas na sa halip magkaroon ng pagkaunawaan ay lalayo tayo roon (We do not want to take actions that lead us away from an understanding)," he said. PND (jl)

Palace: Continued high satisfaction show Filipinos still one with government

The Aquino administration's net satisfaction of +51 in the last quarter of 2013 shows the Filipino people remain one with the government in continuing to help fellow Filipinos affected by calamities, Malacañang said Monday.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said this is also a rebuff of those trying to convince the people that most Filipinos are not satisfied with the administration.

"(The Filipino people) remain one with their government as we continue to work, as a people, to help those affected by the calamities of the past few months to get back on their feet and reassume authorship of the next chapters of their lives," he said in a statement.

In its fourth-quarter survey conducted last December, the SWS had noted 71 percent of respondents were satisfied with the Aquino administration's general performance.

Only 19 percent were dissatisfied while 10 percent were ambivalent, resulting in a net score of +51.

While the net score of +51 is down from the "very good" +56 in September, it was higher than the "good" +44 in May 2012.

But the SWS also noted a dip in the administration's scores on various key issues.

"To emphasize once more: In spite of the concerted effort of a few to convince the public that most of our countrymen are dissatisfied with how the national government has performed in the face of the many challenges in the past months, these results show that the Filipino were not misled," Lacierda said.

"Your administration, under the leadership of President Aquino, derives its strength from this unbreakable union of purpose with our people; and it is ultimately your continued belief and participation that gives us strength, and accelerates our country’s journey on the straight path," he added. PND (jl)

Palace: Government forces making sure BIFF won't grow into major threat

Government forces are taking steps to make sure armed groups trying to fight the government do not become a major threat to peace in Mindanao, Malacañang assured the public Monday.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr. said the government's goal to attain peace for Mindanao remains unchanged.

"Masinsing tinututukan ng ating Armed Forces of the Philippines, particular ang intelligence operative natin, ang sitwasyon para tiyakin na kung anumang galaw ng kaaway ng Republika hindi ito makahadlang sa proseso ng kapayapaan (Our AFP particularly our intelligence operatives are keeping tabs on things to make sure any move by the state's enemies do not become a major threat)," Coloma said at a media briefing.

He said this includes the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and followers of Moro National Liberation Front founding chairman Nur Misuari.

The BIFF and followers of Misuari are reportedly joining forces against the government.

Coloma said the government is taking proactive action via intelligence work, surveillance, and "decisive action pag kinakailangan (decisive action if needed)." PND (jl)