Wednesday, 19 February 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Wednesday, February 19, 2014

President Aquino assures urban poor of safe long-term housing solutions

President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday reassured urban poor communities of the government's continued efforts to ensure safe and clean shelter for them in the long run.
The President made the reassurance after inspecting the micro medium-rise building model units in Manila's Sampaloc district.

"Ngayon, ang tutok natin: mas ligtas na tahanan para sa mga residente, malinis at malawak na daluyan ng tubig, at pangmatagalang solusyon sa malawakang pagbaha sa Kamaynilaan (Our efforts are focused on providing residents with safe homes, clean waterways and a long-term solution against flooding)," he said.

He added his administration's solution differs from the past where families were evicted and have nowhere to go.

Also, he noted the present solution includes ensuring the health of residents in the community.

The President earlier inspected the micro medium-rise building model units, which were constructed starting November 2013 and were completed last January.

Micro-MRBs are meant to maximize the use of urban land and are easier to maintain.

President Aquino said the government is eyeing 167 informal settler families at Estero de San Miguel as beneficiaries of the housing program.

The President also said the government had initially set aside P10 billion to move urban poor families away from danger zones.

So far, he said some 3,400 families had been moved to safer communities, with another 11,000 families within three meters of waterways being targeted by August.

"Makakaasa po kayo: Sa bawat detalye ng ating programa, prayoridad natin ang makabubuti sa mas nakararami (You can be assured every detail of our program prioritizes the greatest good of the greatest number)," he said. PND (jl)

President Aquino to discuss peace, trade with Malaysian PM during visit

President Benigno S. Aquino III expects to discuss with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak several topics, ranging from the peace process to enhanced trade, during his two-day visit to Malaysia.

In an interview with media, the President said the discussions may take place during his bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister.

"Yung peace, ‘yung trade, ‘yung commerce (We may discuss peace, trade and commerce)," he said, but clarified the two countries' claim to Sabah is "not part of the agenda."

The President noted Malaysia has been instrumental in the peace process between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

He added Malaysians have also offered possible livelihood support for MILF members who want to go the way of peace.

On the other hand, the President said he may seek an update on the condition of Filipinos involved in the Lahad Datu incident last year.

Most of these were followers of the late Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, who tried to occupy Sabah and engaged Malaysian forces in deadly clashes.

Several of Kiram's followers face charges before Malaysian courts.

"Palagay ko kukumustahin din natin ‘yung kalagayan ng ating mga kababayan na nagpunta doon sa Lahad Datu incident (I may ask about the condition of Filipinos involved in the Lahad Datu incident)," the President said.

The President pointed out the Philippine government is continuously monitoring the condition of the Filipinos. He added these Filipinos are represented by lawyers.

"So pinapangalagaan din natin ang karapatan nila through fair and due process (We are safeguarding their rights through fair and due process)," he said. PND (jl)

President Aquino: Anti-Cybercrime Law not meant to curb freedom of expression

Despite the controversy over some of its provisions including online libel, the Anti-Cybercrime Law is not meant to curb freedom of expression, President Benigno S. Aquino III said Wednesday.

In an interview with media in Sampaloc in Manila, the President said citizens have nothing to be afraid if they speak the truth.

"Ngayon, ‘yung pipigilin ba ang freedom of expression? Hindi naman yata ‘yon ang layunin. Pero, kayo, bilang mga responsableng mamamahayag meron ding mga—may karapatan kayo, at meron rin namang hangganan ang karapatan ng lahat, di ho ba (Curbing the freedom of expression is not an aim of the law's provision on online libel. But as responsible media practitioners, you are aware you have rights, but those rights also have limits, is that not the case)?" he said.

He said it would not be fair if an inaccurate or wrong statement were repeated in various forms of media.

On the other hand, he said people who tell the truth should not have anything to fear.

"Kung tama naman ang sinasabi mo, bakit ka kakabahan doon sa libel na isyu (If you know you speak the truth, why be worried about libel)?" he said. PND (jl)

President Aquino to revisit calamity-hit areas next week

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Wednesday said he plans to revisit next week some of the areas affected by last year's natural calamities, including a magnitude-7.2 quake and Typhoons Pablo and Yolanda.

In an interview with media in Manila, the President said he expects to get a picture of government efforts to help affected residents recover from the calamities.

"Well, palagay ko hintayin natin hanggang next week kung saan ako iikot muli, ano, sa Yolanda, sa Pablo, sa Bohol na-earthquake at maipakita sa inyo kung nasaan na tayo (Let's wait until next week when I go around areas hit by Typhoons Yolanda and Pablo, and the quake that hit Bohol)," he said.

Some groups had criticized the government for its supposedly slow response to survivors of calamities, particularly of super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

Yolanda left more than 6,200 dead after devastating the Visayas and parts of Southern Luzon.

The President said the government continues to assist 1.4 million families affected by Yolanda.

He added he will address the concerns raised by some of the survivors who submitted a petition to him for assistance.

Meanwhile, the President assured the government will continue to extend assistance to Yolanda survivors, but voiced concerns over calls to give each affected family P40,000.

He said giving the amount to about 1.4 million families may entail some P56 billion - almost 10 percent of the P600-billion budget for personal services and Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE).

"Siguro ang importante nito, ‘yung ano bang magiging pangmatagalan na solusyon ang P40,000 na ‘yan? So ‘yon hindi ko nakita (The important thing is, do we see the granting of P40,000 leading to a long-term solution? I have yet to see it)," he said. PND (jl)

President Aquino says government ready to extend Napoles medical care but court must decide on her detention

The government will ensure that Janet Lim-Napoles gets the medical treatment she needs while staying in prison but it’s up to the court to decide whether she would be kept under hospital arrest, President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Wednesday.

The camp of Napoles has been asking for her transfer to a medical facility after it was reported that she’s suffering from an ailment.

“Siyempre obligasyon natin manigurado iyong mga taong nakapiit sa ating mga kulungan ay pinapangalagaan ang kalusugan. So ipapa-check natin kung talagang meron siyang medical na reason. Tapos at this point, korte ang magsasabi kung saan pwede siyang dalhin,” the President said in an interview during the inauguration of Estero de San Miguel Micro Medium-Rise Building model unit in Sampaloc, Manila.

With regards to calls for Napoles’s transfer to a regular detention facility, the President said the government is after the testimony of Napoles to shed light to the P10-billion pork barrel anomaly.

Napoles has kept her silence on the issue despite the huge government expenses for her detention in Camp Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa City in Laguna.

“Lahat ng ating mga kilos at hangarin, hinahabol natin iyong ebidensiya na magagamit sa paglilitis ng mga kaukulang nagkasala,” he said.

The President also said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has not submitted the list of the third batch of officials to be charged in connection with the pork barrel scam.

The justice secretary was given a lot of assignment and she’s probably busy with those tasks which is why she has not come up with the list of additional names, the President said.

But he expects De Lima to submit the list as soon as the Department of Justice is ready to file charges against individuals being implicated in the scam. PND (as)

President Aquino cites 3 driving forces to ensure the country's readiness for ASEAN integration by 2015

President Benigno S. Aquino III has cited connectivity, productivity and complementarity as driving forces in enhancing the country's competitiveness and readiness for the integration of economies among the 10-member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) by 2015, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said on Wednesday.

In his keynote speech during the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) 2nd General Membership Meeting held at the InterContinental Manila in Makati City, the Communications Secretary said the Chief Executive has discussed with concerned government agencies the policy agenda in ensuring that the Philippines is ready for ASEAN integration.

"On the sidelines of the Mindanao Business Forum held in Davao City last August 8, the President cited the importance of connectivity in terms of airports and seaports considering that the Philippines is an archipelago and, unlike other ASEAN member-countries, it does not have land boundaries with its neighboring countries," Coloma said.

The President also said the government has crafted measures to alleviate the country's poverty, he said.

"He also talked about addressing poverty among millions of Filipinos in the agriculture and fisheries sector," he said.

"Product diversification is another option that is actively pursued. According to the President, a Bicol University college of agriculture research team headed by its dean, Dr. Justino Arboleda, is presently drawing up a blueprint on the production of coconut by-products such as coco coir, cocopeat, coco water and charcoal briquette in factories that may be run by coconut farmers themselves. Initial studies show that payback period on initial investment can be as quick as one year," Coloma said.

President Aquino said the country's participation in ASEAN integration aims at providing greater access to new markets.

"President Aquino himself is upbeat and optimistic about the country's participation in ASEAN integration as it should send strong signals to a business community that seems to be skeptical about the country's prospects," he said.

"For those who share our President's view that current efforts are converging towards complementarity both within the country and in the region, then there is cogent reason to believe that, indeed, the Philippines is well-poised to take its place among the region's competitive economies in an integrated economic regime," Coloma said.

"We need to consolidate and fortify the gains we have achieved in terms of breaking out of the vicious cycle that made our country the 'sick man of Asia'," he said.

Financial executives gathered on Wednesday to discuss the challenges and opportunities of ASEAN integration.

The ASEAN is pursuing the integration of economies among the 10-member states with the establishment of an ASEAN Economic Community by December 2015. ASEAN is composed of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Brunei, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines.

The integration will allow companies based in ASEAN member-nations to enter each other’s markets, with lowered tarriffs and capital market integration. PND (js)