Monday, 3 February 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, January 27, 2014

Sec. Lacson: Construction of vertical structures to go full swing in Yolanda-hit areas soon

With roads and bridges no longer a major problem in areas hit by super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), Presidential Assistant on Reconstruction and Recovery Panfilo M. Lacson expects the construction of "vertical" structures to go full swing soon.

Lacson said at a media briefing in Malacañang the "horizontal" structures like roads and bridges are no longer a problem, and the private sector could now set up the vertical structures.

"We hope in the coming weeks mag-full swing ang mga vertical. Sa ngayon walang problema sa horizontal, ang roads and bridges. But ang vertical, as soon as possible, we are egging the private sector especially development sponsors to put up structures already (We hope in the coming weeks, the construction of vertical structures will go on full swing. We now have no problem with horizontal structures like roads and bridges. But we are egging the private sector especially the development sponsors to put up vertical structures soonest)," he said.

Lacson noted rehabilitation work has started moving in areas hit by Yolanda, and the affected areas had been divided into 24 areas of intervention.

He noted there have been many from the private sector who agreed to be sectoral sponsors.

Also, he said his office has suggested to private companies to "adopt" and start constructing structures in affected areas.

"They are top corporations... Some of them are already deep in their planning at saka may timetable na susundin para magsimula ang rehabilitation (Some of them are deep in their planning and have a timetable to follow in rehabilitation work)," he said.

So far, Lacson said the biggest challenge for his office is coordination, though he noted that corporations have a social responsibility to the people.

He added these corporations will likely remain involved in rehabilitation work even after President Benigno Aquino III's term ends on June 30, 2016.

"Iiwanan namin sila and they will just carry on. Even beyond 2017 naroon pa rin sila, continue ang rebuilding efforts (We will leave them and they will carry on. Even beyond 2017 they will still be there to continue rebuilding efforts)," he said. PND (jl)

Palace says signing of annex on normalization on Bangsamoro manifests government commitment to lasting peace in Mindanao

The signing of the Annex on Normalization and Addendum on Bangsamoro Waters by the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) panels manifests the unshakeable commitment of the Aquino government to achieve a genuine and lasting peace in Mindanao, a Palace official said.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda issued the statement during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Monday following the signing of the Annex on Normalization, the last of the four Annexes to the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) last Saturday.

"This was the culmination of a process that Secretary Teresita Deles described as one characterized by “painstaking deliberation,” and “discussion and internal consensus-building." According to her, this process was “grounded on extensive consultations with concerned local government units, religious and civil society leaders, and communities especially in the conflict-affected areas,” Lacierda said.

"The news was met with an outpouring of good wishes for the Philippines. Advocates of peace here at home and abroad greeted this news with optimism." the Presidential spokesperson said.

He said the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Switzerland, and international bodies such as the European Union and the United Nations, praised the Philippines for this achievement.

"This milestone gives the entire nation confidence that the next steps in the peace process are on track. The work does not end here. In particular, we look forward to the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. The Bangsamoro Transition Commission is also working on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which our legislators will enact, moving forward," Lacierda said.

The Framework on the Bangsamoro, signed on October 15, 2012, serves as a roadmap for the creation of a Bangsamoro entity that will replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and lays down the groundwork to achieve lasting and genuine peace in Mindanao.

"We believe that this achievement signals the unshakeable commitment of the Philippines to all stakeholders in the country, as well as people of good will in the world: that this process will come to fruition, and that lasting peace and development in Muslim Mindanao are at hand," he said. PND (js)

Lacson eyes separate office for disaster rehabilitation, recovery

Presidential Assistant on Reconstruction and Recovery Panfilo M. Lacson may recommend the creation of a permanent office focusing on rehabilitation and recovery from calamities.

Lacson, in a briefing at Malacañang on Monday, said this is due to the country being visited by an average of some 20 cyclones a year.

"We'll be hit by calamities at least 20 times a year, depende sa magnitude (It depends on the magnitude). We might as well have an institution that will focus on dealing with rehabilitation and recovery," he said.

He said the proposed office would be different from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, which has its own mandate.

Besides, he said such an office could help ensure continued help for affected areas if a calamity hits another country and the international community's attention is diverted.

"Once another calamity of similar magnitude tatama sa ibang lugar...iiwanan tayo ng multilaterals, that's my biggest nightmare (Once another calamity of similar magnitude hits another country, we may be left behind by multilateral agencies. That's my biggest nightmare)," he said.

Meanwhile, Lacson assured they are thinking of ways to accelerate the rebuilding of Tacloban City, which he said is the hub of economic activities in the region.

But he also stressed the structures there should meet minimum requirements, including being able to withstand winds of up to 250 kph and quakes of up to Intensity IX.

Hospitals should be able to convert into communication and command centers, with their own power generator facilities and continuous supply of food, water and medicines. PND (jl)

Aquino to lead 2013 The Outstanding Filipino Award and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Performance Awarding Ceremonies this week, Palace says

President Benigno S. Aquino III will lead the presentation of awards for The Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) 2013 Awarding Ceremonies and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) 2013 Agency Performance Awards this week, a Palace offcial said.

"Both seek to recognize men, women, and organizations, that have exhibited excellence in their respective fields—excellence that has contributed not only to their personal success, but has also yielded benefits for our countrymen," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda issued the statement during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Monday.

The TOFIL Award is a project of Junior Chamber International (JCI) Senate Philippines and the Insular Life Assurance Co., Limited. Conceived in 1988, the institution honors the country’s men and women who have made significant contributions to the advancement in his/her field of expertise, public welfare and national development.

"These events underscore a truth our administration has always subscribed to: that genuine and lasting change is indeed built on the shoulders of hardworking, determined, and sincere Filipinos," Lacierda said.

" Let us continue to work together, and to each do what we can to contribute to the realization of our shared aspirations for the Philippines: a country where what was once impossible is now, indeed, possible," he said. PND (js)

PARR eyes amendment to procurement law to curb irregularities by contractors

To curb substandard work by contractors in rehabilitation efforts in areas affected by super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the government is considering seeking amending the law on procurement for government projects.

Presidential Adviser on Reconstruction and Recovery Panfilo M. Lacson said Monday his office may ask Congress to amend Republic Act 9184, which requires contractors to undertake repairs for substandard work in 90 days.

"We will propose to Congress na i-amend ang particular provision na yan (We will propose to Congress to amend that particular provision)," Lacson said at a briefing in Malacañang.

Under Article 19, Sec. 62 of RA 9144, the contractor shall undertake repair works at his own expense for any defect or damage within 90 days.

But Lacson said this provision has to be strengthened, to discourage contractors from deliberately using substandard materials and hoping it will go unnoticed.

With the 90-day timetable, Lacson said his office would be hampered from filing charges against contractors whose work turned out to be below specifications.

"Dapat maamyendahan ang provision kasi kung deliberate ang pag-underspecification, bakit pagbibigyan mo pa i-repair (The provision of the law should be amended to discourage deliberate substandard work. Why give them a chance to repair their work if it is deliberate?)" he said.

Lacson noted that while their inspection of the bunkhouses for people affected by Yolanda showed no overpricing so far, there had been instances of substitution of materials.

Meanwhile, Lacson said his office may ask private sector partners or sectoral sponsors to be the ones to acquire land and donate it along with the houses they build.

He said some areas such as Basey have land priced at as low as P50 per square meter. PND (jl)