Sunday, 16 February 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Wednesday, February 12, 2014

President Aquino declares February 13 as a special non-working day in Parañaque City in celebration of 16th Cityhood anniversary

President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared February 13, which falls on a Thursday, as a special non-working day in the Paranaque City in celebration of its 16th cityhood anniversary.
The Chief Executive issued the declaration by virtue of Proclamation No. 715 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on February 7, to give the people of Paranaque City the full opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occasion
On February 13, 1998, Parañaque was made into a chartered city by virtue of Republic Act No. 8507.

The name "Parañaque" is derived from the phrase "para na aque," which was commonly used in the past when people wished to disembark from kalesas (horse-drawn carriages). PND (js)

Long enduring Mindanao peace at hand with people’s collective effort, says Aquino

DAVAO CITY: A lasting peace is at hand in Mindanao with the signing of several components of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Wednesday, as he rallied people’s support for the peace initiative to make it successful in the long term.

“Pagkatapos nating sunod-sunod na nalagdaan ang mga bahagi ng Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, abot-kamay na natin ang ganap na pagtutuwid ng sistema sa rehiyong ito, at ang permanenteng pagbabago sa Lupang Pangako,” the President said in his message during the 2nd Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Local Government Units (LGUs) Summit on Governance and Development.

The President underscored the spirit of volunteerism and collective effort of the people in attaining a lasting peace in Mindanao. He added that the current leadership of the Autonomous Region in Munslim Mindanao did a lot of sacrifices as the region transitions into another phase of its history.

“Ang pinamagandang payo na natanggap ko ay, ‘We win when we think of how the other can win, instead of how we can win,’” he said.

Mindanao starts to move to a new era of better governance towards an improved society, the President said, noting the region is now able to free itself from repeating the errors of the past.

“Nananabik na po tayo sa araw na maipasa na ang Bangsamoro Basic Law, upang tuluyan na ngang mabuksan ang bagong kabanata ng kasaysayan sa Muslim Mindanao.”

The President thanked the leadership of ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman for carrying out reforms in the region, calling him the ARMM’s “ghost buster.”

The only hurdle in Mindanao’s quest for long enduring peace are the doubts and fears of the people to commit the same mistakes that happened in the past, he said.

This is the reason, he said, why he calls on the people to give peace a chance in Mindanao.

“Makakaasa po kayong sa bawat kasunduang ating nilalagdaan ay nakataya ang aming dangal at pangalan. Hinihimok ko po kayong tumaya rin sa pag-asang makakamit natin ang malawakan at ganap na pagbabago sa ARMM. Tiyakin po nating hindi na tayo babalik pa sa dilim ng nakaraan—totoong maliwanag na kinabukasan po ang inyong matatanglawan,” the President said.

And as he steps down from power more than two years from now, the President said the people of Mindanao will choose new leaders who will guide them in the right direction, he said. He added that while he returns to private life, he will be willing to support the development of the region.

The second ARMM local government summit aims to highlight the role of ARMM LGUs in the Mindanao peace process and in preparations for disaster management, mitigation and response.

The ARMM leadership hopes that through the summit, it could strengthen LGUs on disaster risk management and prevention down to the lowest level.

“Strengthening Regional Stakeholders’ Partnership towards Revitalized ARMM in Transition to Bangsamoro” is this year’s summit theme. PND (as)

Palace: Government taking steps to ensure availability of LPG at reasonable prices

The government is taking steps to ensure the availability of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) at reasonable prices, Malacañang reassured the public Wednesday.

Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio Coloma Jr. said there are established procedures for dealing with price movements under a deregulated industry.

"May prosesong sinusunod sa price movements ... Ang mahalaga ay tiyakin ang availability of supply and reasonable prices following the law (There are procedures to be followed in dealing with price movements. What is important is to ensure the availability of supply and reasonable prices following the law)," Coloma said at a media briefing.

He added it is the duty of the government to get a clear picture of the situation and come up with the proper solution.

Coloma's reassurance came amid reports that LPG prices may go up by P5 per kilo with the decommissioning of an LPG import terminal in Batangas.

Earlier reports indicated the terminal's closure resulted in a supply deficit of LPG in Southern Luzon. PND (jl)

President Aquino reports on gains of ARMM reform initiatives

(DAVAO CITY) The government was able to improve the conditions of the Autonomous Region in Mindanao (ARMM) with its new leadership from major infrastructure to agriculture and peace and order, President Benigno S. Aquino III said during a local government summit here.

Speaking before the participants of the 2nd ARMM LGU Summit on Governance and Development here at the Waterfront Insular Hotel, the President said the new ARMM leadership successfully fought corruption, improved public service, and maintained peace and order.

“Ngayon, narito na nga po tayo, at tinatamasa na natin ang ilang mga tagumpay, na gaano man kahirap, ay sama-sama nating sinikap abutin,” the President said.

With the implementation of the synchronized election in the ARMM, the government reduced the number of precincts registering failure of election.

The President reported that in the 2007 elections, there were 17 municipalities in ARMM that declared failure of election. This is a huge improvement since there is only one polling precinct that reported a failure of election during the 2013 polls, he said.

Election-related violence also dropped, he said, citing reports from the Philippine National Police (PNP). In 2010, the PNP reported 33 incidents of violence, but in 2013 there were only six cases.

The region also had huge improvements in terms of healthcare, he said. In 2013, the President said the DOH-ARMM reported 45,659 pre-natal visits of pregnant women, 36,876 for post-pregnancy, and 14,179 babies undergoing newborn screening.

There is also a big number of poor families receiving government support under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, he noted. In 2014 there are 389,656 households in ARMM that are enrolled in the program.

“Samakatuwid, mas marami nang kabataan sa inyo rito ang nababantayan ang edukasyon at kalusugan, at mas nabibigyan ng pagkakataon sa mas maliwanag na kinabukasan,” he said.

Many areas in Mindanao are now receiving better healthcare and education similar to those being enjoyed by other areas in the country, he said.

Investors’ confidence is also high in the region, the President noted. Based on the report by ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, 2013 investments reached P1.46 billion. This is 157 percent higher compared to the P569 million posted in 2012.

Parts of these investments include the 9 million liter oil depot at the Port of Polloc in Maguindanao that is expected to reduce the price of oil in central Mindanao, he said.

The Office of the Regional Treasurer and other agencies also improved in collecting fees in 2013 with P1.25 billion surpassing the P1.24 billion target for that year.

“At tiwala naman po tayo sa paggugol sa pangunguna ni Governor Hataman. Kaya hindi lang dumami na ang koleksyon, malalagay pa sa tamang kalalagyan. Kaya talaga hong paangat na nang paangat ang ARMM,” the President added.

Under the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) and ARMM partnership, the government allocation reached P1.49 billion for 2013, according to an ARMM briefer.

PAMANA is a government peace and development framework aimed at strengthening peace building, reconstruction and development in conflict-affected areas.

Among ARMM’s partner agencies include the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

For this year, the allocation for ARMM’s projects, in cooperation with its partners is P2.66 billion. Among ARMM’s partners include the DSWD, the Department of Public Works and Highways and other agencies. PND (as)

Palace reassures families of victims in Bontoc bus tragedy of insurance benefits

Malacañang on Wednesday reassured families of fatalities in last week's deadly bus accident in Mountain Province that they would get insurance benefits from the bus firm even if the vehicle was found to be a "colorum."

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said he got the assurance from Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board head Winston Ginez, who had coordinated with owners of G.V. Florida Transport Inc.

"Kinausap ko si Chairman Ginez at tiniyak niyang matatanggap ng pamilya ng nasawi ang benefits... Manggagaling ito sa tuwirang financial assistance mula sa G.V. Florida Transport Inc. at mula sa kumpanya ng insurance (I talked to Chairman Ginez and he assured the families would get their insurance benefits as assistance from G.V. Florida Transport and from the insurance company)," Coloma said a media briefing.

He said this is in reply to reports that the families of the victims are concerned they may not get assistance from the bus firm following the accident.

At least 15 people were killed after the G.V. Florida Transport bus fell into a ravine in Bontoc, Mountain Province.

"Inasikaso na ni Chairman Ginez ang bagay na ito (Chairman Ginez is taking care of this)," Coloma said. PND (jl)

No singling out of Estradas in PDAF row, Palace maintains

Malacañang reassured the family of former President and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada the Aquino administration is not singling them out in the Priority Development Assistance Fund row.
Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio Coloma Jr. maintained the investigation into the multibillion-peso mess will depend on the evidence.

"Walang tinutukoy o sini-single out na kahit sinong individual dahil ang pinagbabatayan ay ebidensya (Nobody is being singled out because we are basing the investigation on the evidence)," Coloma said at a media briefing.

He added the Department of Justice will continue to evaluate all evidence and information on the matter.

Coloma also said that while there is a sense of urgency in investigating the scam, the Department of Justice follows the guideline of acting on the basis of evidence.

Meanwhile, Coloma said Vice President Jejomar Binay and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima maintain cordial ties as shown by their conduct during the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

He said Binay and de Lima, who have expressed differences of opinion on the PDAF row, appeared to discuss the matter amicably.

"Ang alam ko napagusapan nila ang tungkol sa pahayag na nailahad at nagpaliwanagan sila at mukhang mainam ang paguusap (As far as I know, they talked about the matter and explained their positions, and appeared to discuss the matter amicably)," he said. PND (jl)

Aquino directs Cabinet Secretaries to intensify job creation and social protection programs, Palace says

President Benigno S. Aquino III has directed Cabinet members to be proactive in delivering front-line services that will assist Filipinos in provinces where there is a high incidence of poverty, a Palace official said on Wednesday.

"The main agenda for the Cabinet meeting yesterday were the action plans on jobs creation, social protection and poverty reduction presented by the departments comprising the Cabinet's human development and poverty reduction cluster (HDPRC)," Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr. said in a statement during the regular press briefing in Malacanang.

The President had ordered to intensify programs on job creation and social protection in the most needy and vulnerable provinces, Coloma said.

Coloma said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan presented to the Chief Executive a mid-term assessment of the government's performance vis-a-vis the targets and objectives of the Philippine Development Plan (PDP).

Balisacan reported to the Chief Executive that the government is on track with respect to its economic targets but it lags with respect to social outcomes, Coloma said.

"Growth in gross domestic product at 7.2 percent in 2013 is within the 7 to 8 percent annual growth target. Fixed capital formation has also been on the uptrend, reaching 21.1 percent in 2013 or just a shade below the 22 percent target," Coloma said.

Unemployment rate was 7.1 percent in 2013 compared to the forecast range of 6.8 to 7.2 percent," Coloma said.

"In consonance with the Millennium Development Goals, the aspiration is to decrease poverty incidence by half, from 33.2 percent in 1991 to 16.6 percent by 2015. Latest figures (meaning 2012, these are the latest full year figures) show that poverty incidence has been reduced to 25.2 percent," Coloma stressed.

The Cabinet cluster on human development and poverty reduction recommended for the implementation of strategies with spatial and sectoral dimensions to ensure attainment of inclusive growth.

"Hence, the cluster mapped out specific interventions targeted at addressing the needs of the people in provinces with the most number of poor households (and these are known as the Category 1 provinces), provinces where the proportion of poor households is high (Category 2), and provinces exposed to multiple hazards (Category 3)," Coloma said.

"With respect to these three categories, let me just state that the objective for Category 1 provinces is to create more economic opportunities; for Category 2, enhance mobility of labor and goods; and for Category 3, increase resilience since they are most vulnerable to disasters," he said.

According to Coloma, Trade Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo said that the Department of Trade and Industry will focus on increasing the country's competitiveness in industry sectors with high employment multipliers such as shipbuilding, food processing, furniture, chemicals, automotive, copper and copper products, electronics and garments.

"Continuing support will be given to the IT-BPM sector that has been a consistent generator of new employment opportunities. DTI will also pursue initiatives in further improving the ease of doing business and lowering power costs to enhance employment and job creation," Coloma said.

"Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said that through convergence programs in 30 priority provinces, (these are the provinces in Categories 1, 2 and 3), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will facilitate job matching and placement of jobseekers," Coloma said.

Coloma said the DOLE is working closely with Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Science and Technology and Professional Regulation Commission, along with a network of school administrators, guidance counselors, and career advocates, in intensifying programs on job creation.

In line with ASEAN integration, Coloma said the DOLE is also promoting the mobility of professionals in up to 46 professions through mutual recognition agreements or MRAs with other countries.

"TESDA's work scholarship program aims to develop skill sets and competencies that will match available and potential job opportunities that are focused on the following sectors: agro-fishery and agro-industrial; manufacturing (the manufacturing sectors I already mentioned the DTI portion), tourism, IT-BPM, infrastructure and housing, and logistics," Coloma said.

On social protection, Coloma said Vice President Jejomar C. Binay reported that the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council is targeting to provide 561,932 families with housing assistance estimated to cost P103.1 billion from 2014 through 2016.

The HUDCC identified the informal settler families, calamity victims and low-salaried government employees as the three priority sectors.

Coloma said Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman reported that families presently being supported by the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program will be given sustainable livelihood opportunities and expanded educational and health grants. PND (js)