Thursday, 13 March 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, March 13, 2014

President Aquino enjoins Ateneo professionals to help build better nation

President Benigno S. Aquino III urged fellow Ateneans to join hands in building a better nation for the country’s future generation.

In his speech during the 40th anniversary of the Ateneo Professional Schools (APS) Wednesday night, President Aquino reminded Ateneo professionals about their ultimate goal of “collectively” building the nation through their skills and expertise.

“Kasabay ng pagdiriwang at pagsasariwa sa Four as One, nawa’y huwag nating makaligtaan na itong Four as One ay Four as One for Others. Manindigan sana tayo na ang ating pagpapakadalubhasa ay hindi para sa ating mga personal na interes kundi para sa mga nasa labas ng bakod at pader ng Professional Schools,” he said referring to the APS theme “Four as One,” which reflects the collective nature and identity of APS.

The APS is the collective entity gathering four graduate schools of the Ateneo: the Ateneo Graduate School of Business (AGSB), the Ateneo Law School (ALS), the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG), and the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health (ASMPH).

During the ceremony, the President witnessed the signing of the four commemorative bricks, inscribed with the Ateneo seal and brand, by the dean of four schools as well as the President of the Ateneo University. The four bricks represent the strong foundation of the APS and their existence over the last forty years.

The deans were Dr. Antonio G.M. La Viña (ASOG), Mr. Alberto L. Buenviaje (AGSB), Dr. Manuel M. Dayrit (ASMPH), and Associate Dean Lily K. Gruba (Officer-in-Charge, Ateneo Law School).

President Aquino entertained three questions from the deans where he recounted the problems he and his officials had to face in steering the country towards the straight path.

“In my mind, ‘baka pwede pa akong go another 20 rounds of the — everything that has to deal with this job’ pero I don’t think I am prepared to sacrifice everybody else’s lives,” he said when thinking about his stint as President.

The President believed that he has done so much in reforming the government and yet he wanted to do more with God’s grace.

“I pray to God and say ... I ask that we be made instruments of His will; That we be able to create His kingdom here on earth; and the third is to shield us [from harm],” he said.

President Aquino ended his speech by recalling Padre Roque Ferriols’ words saying: “Nasabi na ang dapat masabi, pero ang pinakamahalaga ay hindi pa rin nasasabi, ito’y magagawa lamang.” PND (jb)

President Aquino tells youth to join government’s efforts for change

President Benigno S. Aquino III underscored the importance of “collective effort,” particularly the participation of the youth, to effectively implement reforms in government.
In an interview with students of Ateneo Professionals Schools (APS) in Makati City Wednesday night, President Aquino stressed that the youth will determine the country’s future and they have the power to change the government system, which has been tainted by corruption over the years.

“If the youth do not participate in trying to change society and you would be the inheritors of this society, did you, by non-participation, guarantee that that which is wrong continues? Hindi ba, iyong tutol hindi sumali e o di lahat ng natira sumang-ayon. Tuloy ang ligaya ng iilan, kawawa yung nakakarami,” he said.

He refused to describe corruption in the country as “very rampant” saying that he himself has not been tagged in any corrupt practice.

“If the top is corrupt, then everybody will have a justification to be corrupt, okay. Now, kailangan ko naman sabihin, nahihiya naman ako kay Leila de Lima and others, the Ombusman, et cetera, who have been filing the necessary cases and we are awaiting adjudication of [these cases],” he further said.

President Aquino reminded the youth that people on the good side are often pilloried and besmirched but these should not discourage them to fight for what is right.

“The fundamental question is ‘You see something, it's wrong. You have two choices: you fight against it or you accept it’,” he said.

He noted that in the end, the youth are the ones who will chart the future of the country and it will be up to them how to make it a better place to live in.

“Your generation really should provide the necessary muscle, the energy that drives, because at the end of the day, you really will inherit that, which is better or worse, due to our collective efforts or lack of effort,” the President said referring to a third year law student of APS who asked him question during the event. PND (jb)

President Aquino thanks ADB for supporting government recovery efforts after typhoon ‘Yolanda’

President Benigno S. Aquino III expressed his gratitude to the Asian Development Bank for helping the country recover from the devastation by Typhoon Yolanda last year by extending grants and loans amounting to billions of dollars.

“In the aftermath of the storm, the ADB reached out to our government and to the Filipino people—in a sense, clearing paths through the rubble, and showing us where we could pick ourselves up and continue to journey towards inclusive growth,” the President said in his message during ADB’s reception in its headquarters in Mandaluyong City Wednesday.

The ADB provided the country with assistance in the form of loans and grants, which is expected to exceed one billion dollars. At the same time, the bank set up an office in Tacloban City to coordinate the use of funds, and to give guidance to local governments, the President said.

“Indeed, with this kind of help from your organization—and from the rest of our friends in the international community—affected communities will be back on their own feet in the soonest possible time.”

In the wake of previous disasters, the ADB provided the Philippines grants after the massive mudslide in Southern Leyte in 2006. It also helped the country in crisis recovery efforts in the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy in 2009, he noted.

Extending this assistance is an act of a true partner, he said, an ally that exhibits concern for the welfare of the Filipino people. This gives Filipinos great confidence that they have a partner they can rely on to rebuild.

The relief, rebuilding, and reconstruction phases that follow calamities are only one aspect of Philippines and ADB partnership, he said.

“The true essence of these is found in our joint undertakings over the years: our combined work to accelerate the Philippines’ journey on the path of true and holistic development. From the very beginning, you have helped us to take great strides along this path,” he added. PND (as)

Aquino: ADB, government’s partner for national development

The Asian Development Bank is a major partner that helped the Philippines set the momentum to continuous economic growth, President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Wednesday.

During a reception at the ADB’s headquarters in Mandaluyong City Wednesday, the President spelled out its assistance to the Philippines.

He said that from 1966 to the end of 2012, the ADB has loaned the country with more than $13 billion, which was used by the government to build vital infrastructure projects such as roads, airports, and power plants.

Currently, the ADB is the country’s sixth largest source of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), with overall net commitment reaching more than $833 million, he added.

The President noted that with ADB’s help, the government was able to push its flagship conditional cash transfer program and has registered 4.3 million households in 2014. More than 600,000 were financed through ADB loans.

Under the program, families receive cash grants on the condition that children are sent to school, pregnant mothers are assessed regularly, and infants and children are vaccinated.

Another ADB-funded project in the country is the Philippine Energy Efficiency Project, he said. The ADB loaned the Philippines more than $30 million for the program, helping the government distribute 8.6 million compact fluorescent lamps to more than 3.5 million Filipino households.

The projects reduced the country’s annual electricity demand by 321 gigawatt hours and has shrunk its carbon footprint, he said.

“And with organizations like you supporting our efforts, we have been able to work with our people to turn those collective aspirations into reality,” the President said.

The country was previously considered the Sick Man of Asia, but today there is optimism among Filipinos, he said.

With the reforms being initiated in government, the administration has done away with the vicious cycle of dishonesty, corruption, and self-interest that crippled the economy.

Today, there is empowerment, transparency and integrity that foster confidence and true participation of the people, he said.

“Today, we have the social and economic momentum towards becoming one of the world’s most dynamic economies in the years to come.”

If the ADB and the government further strengthen their partnership and work shoulder to shoulder towards one goal, they could empower millions of Filipinos for national development, the President said. PND (as)

Next President must be competent, selfless, says President Aquino

President Benigno S. Aquino III advised young people to vote for a presidential candidate who is competent, selfless and firm.

During a question and answer portion with Hope Christian High School students in Manila Thursday, the President was asked about the major qualities of a presidential candidate that first-time voters must look for.

President Aquino said the next president should be competent, should not flip flop with his positions, and should put people’s interest first.
“Alam n’yo ba kung ano 'yung ampaw na pagkain? Yung ampaw malasa pero sa loob hangin,” the President said in describing an incompetent leader.

He also told students that a leader must be firm in his positions and shouldn’t change his views. A president should also earn the respect and trust of the people for everyone to follow.

A leader must also be selfless, he said.

Yung third value, talagang ito bang taong ito na-demonstrate ang pagiging para sa iba as opposed to para sa sarili?” he asked.

”Klaro ba na 'yung gawain niya tungo sa kapakanan ng iba o kapakanan ng sarili? Kung manonood lang tayo ng commercial niya noong panahon ng kampanya kulang ang ginawa natin.”

The President also mentioned his fear about a leader who is over confident.

“Siguro kakabahan ako 'pag sumama kayo sa akin gagawin ko ito, gagawin ko 'yan, gagawin ko 'yon’—para bang masyadong bilib sa sarili. Kailangan may humility rin,” he said.

“At the end of the day there really has to be continuity between his actions and his words, and that has to be demonstrated consistently before he can start or you should start imparting your trust on him or her,” he told students. PND (as)

Palace now studying PMA Cadet Cudia’s appeal

Malacanang said it is studying the appeal of Philippine Military Academy cadet Jeff Aldrin Cudia who will not graduate for allegedly violating the Honor Code.

“The Office of the President is currently studying the appeal. The PMA Honor Code is an essential building block on the character formation of future leaders and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a statement Thursday.

“The basic objective of the PMA honor code is to prepare and fortify the mindset and the value set of the prospective Armed Forces officer as these will eventually be put to a severe test in the battlefield and arenas of conflict, where the officer will be deployed upon commissioning.”

Assuring Cudia’s family on the Palace’s review, he said: “Truth and fairness are the primary guideposts in deciding this appeal.”

The PMA had dismissed Cudia and he will not be among the March 16 graduates of the academy.

Cudia, the batch salutatorian, will be separated from service after having allegedly violated the academy’s Honor Code, the PMA said. It added that Cudia couldn’t acquire his degree and other distinctions.

Cudia was accused of having lied about his reason for tardiness in class. After Cudia appealed his case, AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Emmanuel Bautista ordered a reinvestigation of the incident.

The fate of Cudia will rely on President Aquino’s decision. The beleaguered cadet is currently discharged and on indefinite leave. PND (as)

Government spells out measures to address Mindanao power shortage

The government is carrying out several measures to address the power shortage being experienced in Mindanao, the Palace said on Thursday.

In a statement, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the President met with Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla last Monday and directed him to pursue efforts addressing the tight power supply situation in Mindanao that occurred last February 27.

“The President also directed the Department of Energy to coordinate with the Department of Science and Technology in monitoring the inquiry into the causes of the unexpected breakdown. According to the DOE, the tightness in the Mindanao power supply situation is expected to persist through the months of March, April, and May,” he said.

Coloma said Petilla enumerated three measures to address the Mindanao power shortage.

First is the interruptible load program that is expected to generate around 93.71 megawatts.

Under this program, distribution utilities may tap into their generator sets, instead of availing themselves of the system power supply, and they will be compensated for the cost differential through a formula already determined by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), he explained.

The ERC approved the petition of Davao Light for rules change on cost recovery that resulted to significant gain in capacity, he noted.

Another measure is the Interim Mindanao Electricity Market, which is similar to the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market.

It is a transparency device by which the available supply in a particular grid is made open and public, so that those that need additional supply may buy directly from offerors of power in that market. This scheme is expected to generate 124 megawatts, according to Coloma.

The government is also considering the Mindanao modular generator set program that is expected to generate 48 megawatts. The President already issued an executive order enabling the acquisition of modular generator sets.

“Through the additional capacity of 265 megawatts that will be generated from these three measures, the DOE hopes to be able to bridge the gap between demand and supply, and thus, lessen the frequency and duration of the rotating brownouts,” Coloma said. PND (as)

Philippines continues to post two percent increase in employment each year, says labor department

While the government admitted that unemployment continues to be a challenge, the labor department said the country has posted two percent increase in employment annually.

“Pag sinabing unemployment tinatanggap ng gobyerno ‘yan—hanggang ngayon may problema tayo kasi bagama’t nakaka-create tayo ng jobs in the earlier slide ay taun-taon may two percent increase din na pumapasok annually sa labor force,” Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said in a press briefing in Malacanang on Thursday.

“So nagbabalanse lang siya, o steady ‘yung unemployment natin, and it continues to be a big challenge sa sinuman po ang umupo sa gobyerno.”

Baldoz said that since 2010, the country has experienced employment increases—2.8 percent in 2010, 3.2 percent in 2011, 1.1 percent in 2012, and 0.8 percent in 2013. In the first quarter of 2014, it posted 0.8 percent, she added.

The government continues to create absolute employment figures—974,000 in 2010, 1.15 million in 2011, and 408,000 in 2012, and 317,000 in 2013. In the first quarter of this year, there are 283 net employments, she said.

Baldoz said two percent job seekers enter the labor force while two percent of job is created annually.

The labor secretary discussed the labor situation in the country after the Philippine Statistical Authority released the Labor Force Survey last Tuesday.

Baldoz said the labor department does comparisons on data each time the Labor Force Survey is released. It also conducts more in-depth analysis on the survey results on the year-on-year employment situation in the country, she added. PND (as)

PIA News Dispatch - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

President Aquino praises Cardinal Quevedo’s contribution to Central Mindanao peace, development

(COTABATO CITY) President Benigno S. Aquino III attended Tuesday the thanksgiving mass in honor of Orlando Cardinal Quevedo recognizing his contribution to Central Mindanao’s peace and development.

In his message, the President particularly expressed his gratitude to the cardinal for his support to the Mindanao peace process that is expected to be signed late this month.

The President said Cardinal Quevedo became an inspiration for the Christian faith and for those doing volunteer works. He was admired by the people when he fought the dictatorship of former strongman Ferdinand Marcos, he noted.

Even after several decades of unwavering service, he has not changed his views and continues to persuade others to join and contribute for the benefit of society, the President said.

Cardinal Quevedo has given voice to the oppressed, rallied behind them and asked people to fight abuses, he added.

The administration is lucky to have peace advocates like Cardinal Quevedo that support the Bagngsamoro peace process, the President said. Quevedo advocated the benefits of forging a peace deal between the government and the MILF knowing the long-term effects of the peace pact.

”Kaisa natin siya sa paniniwalang sa tapat at mapayapang dayalogo, mawawakasan ang dekadekadang karahasan na umangkin sa maraming buhay at naging mitsa ng paghihirap ng ating mga kababayan,” the President said in his message.

“Sa pagtaas ng antas ng pamumuhay sa mga komunidad, sa pagsusulong ng mapayapang paglalahad ng damdamin at interes at pagpapatupad ng batas upang matiyak ang seguridad, tiwala tayong ang taumbayan na mismo ang sisigurong matatamasa natin ang malawakang kaunlaran.”

“Sinasalamin po ng mga gawain at inisyatiba ni Cardinal Quevedo na iisang direksyon lang ang ating tinatahak—ang higit na paglilingkod sa ating mga kababayan. Lumalakas po ang ating loob na ipagpatuloy ang ang agenda ng malawakang reporma dahil sa mga tulad po ninyo,” he added.

With the reforms being initiated in government, the President said the country has started to reap its benefits. And with the unity and cooperation among Filipinos, the nation could overcome whatever challenges that lie ahead.

Cardinal Quevedo, who was born in Laoag, Ilocos Norte on March 11, 1939, was ordained in October 1980 in Kidapawan, Cotabato. He initially started his primary education in Ilocos Norte before transferring to South Cotabato in the 1950s until he graduated from high school.

He was named cardinal by Pope Francis on January 14, 2014 and was elevated as cardinal on February 22 this year. PND (as)

Malacanang says Phl can not accept China’s nine-dash line concept

Malacanang said on Wednesday that it cannot accept the People’s Republic of China’s nine-dash line concept, which seeks to demarcate Philippine territory in the West Philippine sea to within 200 meters from shore.

In a press briefing in Malacanang, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said diplomacy and a rules-based approach is still the way to go when dealing with this international matter.

“The Nine-dash line is something we can not accept. Its as simple as that. That’s why we filed an arbitration case before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas (ITLOS),” Lacierda said.

“(Diplomacy) is a process that we will continue to exercise. It’s putting on record the—our protest and putting on record their offense as we see it, as the Philippine government sees it. And so, again, this emphasizes the need for a rules-based approach to the situation in South China Sea,” he added.

Lacierda pointed out that the nine-dash line concept does not conform to international law.

“So the long and short of our claim is that the nine-dash line does not—is not consistent with international law, is not consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Lacierda said. PND (rck)

Malacanang committed to go after housing scam perpetrators

The Palace said it is committed to prosecuting those involved in the multibillion-peso housing scam allegedly perpetrated by detained businessman Delfin Lee during the previous administration.

I certainly know that this government is committed to prosecuting those involved in the housing scam. Let us know who this person is baka puwede pang isama sa kaso,” Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in press briefing in Malacanang on Wednesday.

With regards to the planned inquiry of the House of Representative on the housing scam and the possible participation of some officials from the previous administration, Lacierda said it’s up to the House leadership to conduct the investigation.

“It’s within their jurisdiction to choose, if they choose to do so. I remember there was already a Senate investigation on the housing issue. If the House would prefer to also conduct their own investigation, of course, it is their prerogative to do so.”

The House’s majority bloc received an authority to conduct a probe on the multibillion-peso housing scam.

Lee is the owner of Globe Asiatique Holdings Inc., which allegedly used “ghost buyers” to get close to P7 billion in loans from the Pag-Ibig Fund from 2008 to 2011. PND (as)

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

President Aquino celebrates Jollibee twin store milestones

President Benigno S. Aquino III joined Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC) in celebration of two important milestones in its store expansion in a ceremony held at the Heroes Hall of Malacanang Palace on Tuesday.

During the ceremony, the President congratulated JFC, headed by business magnate Mr. Tony Tan Caktiong, for the fastfood chain’s 800th store, which opened in Malay Balay, Bukidnon in October last year; and its 100th international store located in Jubail, Saudi Arabia.

“Tunay pong pambihira ang nakakamit na tagumpay ng Jollibee Foods Corporation sa mga nagdaang taon—mula sa 100 tindahan noong 1991, umabot na ito sa mahigit siyam na raan ngayong 2014 sa Pilipinas at sa ibang sulok ng mundo,” President Aquino said.

He said he is thrilled to celebrate the opening of Jollibee’s 1,000th store in the country and quipped that he is expecting it next year.

The event was highlighted by Mr. Tan Caktiong's presentation to the President a scale model of Jollibee Malaybalay Highway Drive-Thru store, which features Jollibee’s latest modern tropical design concept. Jollibee officials also presented a global store network map showing Jollibee’s brand presence worldwide including Vietnam, United States, Brunei, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Tan Caktiong said that his company was honored to celebrate their milestone with President Aquino. He noted that JFC “fully supports” the President’s key programs aimed at further strengthening the economy and creating job opportunities for Filipinos.

Aside from JFC’s contribution to the country’s economy, the President also thanked the famous fastfood chain for providing jobs to its at least 180,000 employees and its other social responsibility initiatives through the Jollibee Group Foundation (JGF).

He specifically mentioned the Busog, Lusog, Talino School Feeding Program, which helps address the issue of hunger and malnutrition among students by providing daily lunch meals in an 8-month feeding cycle. Since 2007, the program has already served more than 100,000 Grade 1 and Grade 2 students in 1,100 public elementary schools nationwide.

The President also lauded JGF’s Farmer Entrepreneurship Program, which helps empower small-scale farmers to become more productive and profitable by giving them the opportunity to be direct suppliers of Jollibee. JGF has assisted more than 800-small scale farmers in Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Quezon, Ilocos Sur, Agusan del Sur, Davao Oriental and Bukidnon since 2008.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has extended its hands to help Jollibee in this program by providing training, technical assistance and agriculture equipment, added the President. Last year, the DA allocated P8.15 million for the program which aims to maximize production and profits for small-scale farmers.

President Aquino likewise underscored JGF’s initiatives during Typhoon Yolanda where the foundation provided 68,000 congee meals and 12,000 hot meals and at least 16,000 relief packs to some 160,000 individuals in the affected communities.

“Nagbubunga na po ang isinusulong nating agenda ng reporma’t kaunlaran. Kaya naman kasabay ng magagandang balita sa lumalago nating ekonomiya, sinisikap din nating hindi lumayo sa sikmura ang natatamasang pag-unlad ng bansa, sa pagpapalawak ng ating mga serbisyong panlipunan,” he said. PND (jb)

Malacanang lauds ERC for deciding against electricity price increase

Malacanang lauded on Tuesday the Energy Regulation Commission for its decision given on March 3 “ruling that the prices in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) during the period covering the Malampaya shutdown could not qualify as “reasonable, rational, and competitive.”

Because of this decision, the ERC has ordered the imposition of regulated prices in lieu of the voided rates. This ruling covers Luzon WESM prices and excludes MERALCO in view of the Supreme Court’s temporary restraining order.

In a press briefing in Malacanang, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said this ruling shows the government is serious about protecting the people from unjust and undue price increases on basic commodities.

“We affirm government’s commitment to protect the citizens’ welfare by ensuring stable and reasonable electricity prices,” Coloma said.

“We note further that this ruling is the outcome of ERC’s inquiry into the behavior of market players during the Malampaya shutdown that preceded MERALCO’s imposition of the questioned power rate adjustments,” he added.

He said this is the government exercising its “police power to stop the imposition of “excessive, exorbitant, unreasonable, or very high prices” of electricity in compliance with its mandate under the EPIRA.” PND (rck)

Malacañang wants public to exert pressure on elected lawmakers to pass FOI Bill

Out of respect for the principle of separation of powers, Malacañang on Tuesday said it would rather that the pressure to have the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill passed by the members of the 16th Congress come from the public than President Benigno S. Aquino III.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. clarified though that this position does not mean the administration is no longer keen on having this legislative measure enacted under President Aquino’s term.

“Sa tingin namin mas magiging epektibo if the pressure will come from the citizens themselves because these are legislators who were elected by the people and they are accountable to their constituents that put them in power,” Coloma explained during a press conference.

The clamor for President Aquino to have an active role on the ratification of an FOI Bill, that was among his campaign promises, was made prominent again after administration Senator Grace Poe recently passed on third reading the Upper House’s version of the said legislation.

Coloma, however, reiterated that President Aquino is only being ‘circumspect’ in exercising his privilege to certify a bill as urgent. “In fact, the commitment has already been fulfilled in actual government practice, at nakikita naman natin ito sa lahat ng larangan,” he said.

The Palace official stressed that even if the FOI Bill is yet to become a law, the Aquino administration has already concretized the principles of openness, transparency, full disclosure, and accountability of public officials, which are also being espoused by the proposed measure.

“Ang concern lang ng stakeholders ay paano na ‘pag nagpalit na ng administrasyon? Kaya nga iginigiit nila na kinakailangang magkaroon ng batas. Kaya kaisa naman kami doon sa pagnanasang magkaroon ng batas dahil gusto rin naman nating maging permanente at ma-institutionalize ‘yung mga repormang ‘yan,” Coloma said.

Malacañang said it will continue to support developments on the FOI Bill at the Senate, while it waits for the action of lawmakers at the House of Representatives on their version, hoping that the elected congressmen would respond positively to this proposed law.

“Kaisa tayo ng mga mamamayan sa pagnanasa na maipasa na ito (FOI Bill) at sana’y matupad na ‘yan sa lalong madaling panahon. Wala naman pong ginagawa ang pamahalaan para hadlangan ‘ito. Ang gusto lang po nating maganap ay ‘yung mainam na proseso na kung saan ang mga mamamayan mismo ang magpapahiwatig sa kanilang mga kinatawan,” Coloma said. PND (hdc)

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, March 10, 2014

President Aquino inducts newly elected officials of KBP

President Benigno S. Aquino III inducted into office the newly elected officials of the Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) in ceremonies held in Malacanang on Monday.

The President administered the oaths of office to the KBP’s new Board of Trustees, Standards Authority Directors and officers and members in Malacanang’s Heroes Hall at around 10 a.m.

The 2014 KBP Board of Trustees and Officers are: Ruperto Nicdao, Jr. – Chairman, Butch Canoy – Vice Chairman, Herman Basbaño – president, Francisco Cardona – Executive Vice President, Alfredo Henrares – Vice President Television, Joselito Yabut – Corporate Secretary, Manuel Bongayan, SVD – Treasurer, Erwin Galang, Cecilia Dy, Jose Alberto Ante, Ric Climaco, Noel Galvez, Ramon Osoria, Orly Pangcog, George Salabao and Christine Joanne Navarro as Directors.

The Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas, or National Association of Broadcasters of the Philippines, is an organization made up of owners and operators of radio and television stations in the Philippines. It was organized on April 27, 1973 by representatives of 19 broadcasting companies and, within a few months, included all broadcasting organizations in the country.

The KBP was established to elevate the standards of broadcasting, help promote positive social change, held disseminate information on development, and establish better business practices between the broadcast media and the advertising industry. PND (rck)

Malaysian Airlines incident should spur airline industry to review security measures to prevent a similar incident from happening in the Philippines

The incident involving a Malaysian airlines plane disappearing should spur Philippine authorities to review the country’s airline security measures to prevent a similar incident from happening in the country, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said on Monday.

In a press briefing in Malacanang, Lacierda said that although security measures in the Philippines are already very strict, the incident should be seen as a way of further reviewing our security measures.

“I think our security measures are very strict but certainly this incident gives us a chance to pause and look and review our security measures. I am sure the Bureau of Immigration will see this incident as a way of reviewing our security measures,” Lacierda said. PND (rck)

Palace welcomes IMF’s review of the economy after typhoon 'Yolanda'

The Palace said it welcomes the assessment by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) this week adding it will cooperate on the review of the country’s economy.

It was reported that a team from the IMF is set to visit the Philippines this week for its annual evaluation of the economy.

The IMF review will focus on the ongoing reconstruction efforts after Typhoon Yolanda, the country’s external accounts and the government efforts to make economic growth trickle down to the poor.

Asked by reporters if he thinks the country will pass the review, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said he can’t predict the outcome but the government will present its reconstruction plan.

“Secretary (Panfilo) Ping Lacson and all the concerned agencies—DPWH, DSWD, DOH, and others will certainly be meeting with them, and also NEDA,” he told reporters in a press briefing in Malacanang on Monday noting that the one doing post-disaster assessment is NEDA.

But he said the administration is confident because it has the budget for reconstruction in addition to pledges of assistance by foreign governments and organizations.

The Palace official also emphasized the role of the private sector in rebuilding areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda, which is a great help for the government.

The IMF expects the Philippine economy to grow by 6.3 percent this year, slower than last year’s 7.2 percent. PND (as)

Government on top of the situation amid risks on ‘Yolanda’ survivors

Malacañang assured the public on Monday that national government agencies remain on top of the situation amid the reported risks facing women and children four months after surviving the wrath of super typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan).

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Education (DepEd), and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) continue to have men on the ground to address the remaining concerns of typhoon victims.

The statement came after the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) released a report saying that while there is a growing sense of recovery in Yolanda-hit areas, there is a host of immediate risk that looms largely on children, ranging from epidemic outbreaks, disruption and loss of access to learning, and greater exposure to violence and exploitation.

“We are always concerned about situations where it will give rise to any epidemic, and therefore, DOH has been on the ground working to prevent such, and has been installing or implementing procedures to make sure that such an event does not happen,” Lacierda said.

With respect to education, Lacierda said it continues to be provided by DepEd to students, although there are some areas where schools have to be rebuilt first, which the agency has already been working on.

“I spoke to Secretary Armin Luistro last Saturday---I think Saturday evening---and we spoke about the construction of schools. Ongoing ang construction of schools doon sa Yolanda,” Lacierda said.

The Palace official said it would also make sure that the DSWD looks after children who have lost their parents from the tragedy so they would not fall under threats of exploitation, violence, and abuse.

“Of course, we are concerned about kung wala na ‘yung mga magulang; and, therefore, DSWD would have to take care of those orphaned children, kung meron. But right now, kung may mga magulang naman sila, again we continue to provide relief efforts to our people,” Lacierda said.

Over 14 million people were affected by super typhoon Yolanda when it hit central Philippines in November 8, 2013; 5.9 million of whom are children, according to the data gathered by the UNICEF. PND (hdc)

PIA News Dispatch - Sunday, March 9, 2014

Philippines joins search for missing Malaysian Airlines

The Philippines joined efforts of its neighboring countries in searching for a Malaysian Airlines airplane that went missing while on its way to Beijing, China, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr said on Sunday.

In a press briefing, Coloma said that Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin had issued the directive to the Armed Forces of the Philippines to commence patrol of the West Philippine sea in hopes of locating the missing Malayasian Air plane.

The AFP immediately sent an F-27 plane and the BRP Gregorio del Pilar to conduct a surveillance mission in the West Phillipine Sea in hopes of locating the Malaysian Airlines plane.

The Malaysian airlines plane, a Boeing 777-200, disappeared from radar screens just 40 minutes into its flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in the early hours of Saturday morning. It was last detected over the seas between Malaysia and Vietnam.

“Ayon sa direktiba ni Kalihim Voltaire Gazmin ng Tanggulang Pambansa, ang AFP ay nagsasagawa ng surveillance at patrol sa West Philippine Sea bilang pagtulong sa patuloy na search and rescue operations para sa nawawalang eroplano ng Malaysian Airlines,” Coloma said.

He added the President had been updated of the AFP’s inclusion in the search and rescue mission.

“Ito ay isinasagawa sa pamamagitan ng F-27 plane at ng BRP Gregorio del Pilar at patrol boats ng Philippine Navy. Simula pa kahapon, ayon kay Kalihim Gazmin, patuloy ang koordinasyon sa AFP ng mga defense attaché ng Malaysia at Vietnam sa pamamagitan ng palitan ng impormasyon. Lahat ng mga ito ay naiuulat kay Pangulong Aquino,” Coloma said. PND (rck)

Government agencies remain committed towards improving public transportation

Concerned government agencies remain committed towards improving public transportation in Metro Manila with the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board’s (LTFRB) recent decision to cancel the franchises of two erring bus companies that figured in a fatal accident along EDSA last November, Malacañang said on Sunday.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. told a press briefing over Radyo ng Bayan that the government continues to uphold the safety and welfare of commuters by keeping a watchful eye on such public utility vehicles.

“Ang pagpapawalang-bisa ng LTFRB ng mga prangkisa na sumasaklaw sa 21 busses ng Elena Liner at 18 units ng MGP Trans ay bahagi ng kampanya upang masiguro ang kaligtasan ng ating mga mamamayan na araw-araw na sumasakay sa mga bus at mabigyan ng hustisya ang mga nasawi at nasugatan sa mga aksidente,” Coloma said in a statement.

He added both the LTFRB and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) also maintain their regular inventory and inspection of the transportation companies’ vehicles to make sure they have the necessary documents to continue their operations.

“Walang humpay ang ginagawang imbentaryo at inspeksyon ng LTFRB at LTO sa mga garahe ng mga pampublikong sasakyan upang masiguro na sapat ang kanilang papeles sa pagbiyahe, kabilang na ang pagsawata sa mga tinaguriang kolorum o mga walang kaukulang prangkisa upang makapamasada,” he said.

In addition, the government has been making substantial improvements on the country’s major thoroughfares, and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has toughened its traffic management by providing more closed circuit television cameras across the city.

Malacañang has also repeatedly asked drivers of public vehicles to exercise extreme caution at all times whenever they ply the country’s busy roads and always abide by traffic rules and other regulations.

At least seven people died and 38 were injured when an Elena Liner bus crashed into an MGP Trans unit at the EDSA-Magallanes loading bay in November 14, 2013. It was found out that MGP Trans was operating illegally as it was not yet registered with the LTFRB and LTO at the time.

Elena Liner and MGP Trans were just two of the many bus companies sanctioned by the LTFRB after being involved in a string of deadly road mishaps bridging the last quarter of 2013 and the first two months of this year.

The LTFRB issued a 30-day suspension against Mayamy Transport Corp. after one of its buses caused multiple injuries to five passengers after crashing through a center island along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City in broad daylight last week.

Last month, the LTFRB also suspended all 228 busses of GV Florida Transport Inc. when one of its units plunged into a ravine in Bontoc, Mountain Province, resulting into 15 fatalities and 31 injuries.

The infamous Don Mariano Transit also had its operations canceled by the LTFRB in January due to several violations in light of the December 16 Skyway accident that killed 22 people and wounded 20. PND (hdc)

PIA News Dispatch - Saturday, March 8, 2014

Ochoa praises Filipino women in calamity-hit areas as nation celebrates women’s month

Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on Saturday lauded all the women in areas affected by super typhoons and earthquake for their contribution to help the country rise above the challenges brought about by a series of calamities last year.

On the occasion of the National Women’s Month celebration, Ochoa expressed his admiration to these women who serve “as pillars of strength and solidarity in their respective families, communities, and our nation.”

The Executive Secretary said the capacity of Filipino women to endure and prevail under demanding circumstances embodies women empowerment.

“Heroines all, women in affected areas, though victims themselves, have inspired us with their efforts to keep their families together, extending assistance to others as volunteers in rescue and rehabilitation efforts, and ably performing their duties as leaders in their respective communities,” Ochoa said.

The theme for this year’s observance of National Women’s Month is “Juana, ang Tatag Mo ay Tatag Natin sa Pagbangon at Pagsulong.”

Ochoa also took the opportunity to announce that the Philippines will begin this month the assessment of the progress of its commitments under the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA) of 1995 in preparation for the 20-year global review next year.

The BPfA is an international accord of women’s rights created during the Fourth World Conference on Women of the United Nation in Beijing in 1995, which has the backing of some 189 countries including the Philippines.

The BPfA includes key areas of concern needing action such as women and poverty, violence against women, and access to power and decision-making.

According to Ochoa, the Philippine report will be crafted by stakeholders in the government and non-government sectors and will be tackled during the Women’s Consultative Conference this month.

“The Philippine experience can very well be a major contribution to this review as the world looks at more opportunities for gender equality and empowerment, and for broadening advocacy in the promotion and protection of women’s rights after 2015,” Ochoa said. PND

Aquino attends 28th PSG anniversary, thanks leadership for dedication to service

President Benigno S. Aquino III thanked the leadership of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) during the celebration of its 28th founding anniversary Friday asking the organization to serve the people with utmost dedication in the remaining years of his administration.

In his message, the President expressed his gratitude to the PSG leadership for providing security to the Aquino family since his mother assumed office in 1986.

And last year, when the country was hit with calamities, both man-made and natural, the President said members of the PSG braved everything to perform their duties of providing him security even in risky areas.

“Pinupuntahan natin ang mga liblib na lugar, at tumutungo tayo sa totoong kondisyon ng ating mga kababayan—ke malungkot, ke masaya—kahit pa minsan ‘di ko maiwasang bigyan kayo ng sakit ng ulo, lalo na ang inyong Group Commander,” the President said.

“Sa mga pagkakataong ito, kadamay ko ang PSG sa lahat ng oras na tayo’y naglilingkod sa taumbayan. Wala tayong pinipiling lugar, malayo man o malapit; tahimik man o mapanganib,” he added.

These sacrifices are part of PSG’s commitment to serve their real “bosses”—the Filipino people, the President said. In less than four years in office, the chief executive said he never felt he was alone because of the service and dedication of men and women from the PSG that do their job well.

And with two more years in office, the President said there still are many challenges that lie ahead. But with PSG’s commitment to service, he said he is confident that the PSG will be a part of the nation’s march towards progress.

“Sa bawat sandaling ito, kasama ko pa rin kayo. Hinihimok ko kayong higit pang pag-igihin ang inyong trabaho, habang kapit-bisig nating isinusulong ang permanenteng pagbabago sa bansa,” he said.

“Hanggang sa ika-30 ng Hunyo 2016, sa pagbaba ko sa puwesto bilang Pangulo, buo ang loob ko na nariyan pa rin kayo sa aking tabi—kasama ko kayong titindig at taas-noong lilingon sa bansa at sasabihing: ‘Ibang-iba na nga ang Pilipinas ngayon kaysa ating dinatnan. Nakakamit na natin ang ating mga pangarap, at tinatamasa na ng Pilipino ang inaasam nating malawakang pagbabago,’” the President added. PND (as)

Philippines joins International Women’s Day celebration

The Philippines joins global celebration of the International Women’s Day Saturday (March 8) recognizing the contribution of Filipino women to national progress.

“Ngayong taon, kinikilala natin ang kababaihang Pilipina na naging katalista ng pagbabago at nagpapakita ng kakaibang tapang, katatagan, kalinga at pagmamahal sa kani-kanilang pamilya at pamayanan sa gitna ng unos at trahedya na puminsala sa ating bansa noong nakaraang taon,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said in a statement on Saturday over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

“Sa pagbangon at pagbabagong-tatag ng mga lugar na sinalanta ng mga bagyo at lindol, muli silang mangunguna upang mapanumbalik ang sigla at liwanag sa mga komunidad at kanayunan. Patuloy ang pagtataguyod ng pamahalaan sa isang patas na lipunan at sa pag-angat sa antas ng mga kababaihan.”

Government’s programs for the welfare of Filipino women have started to bear fruits, he said.

Coloma said that according to the World Economic Forum, the Philippines is the fifth country spearheading and recognizing women’s rights and their contribution to society.

In the whole of Asia, the Philippines was the highest in the Global Gender Gap Index last year, he said, outperforming China, Japan, and India.

The WEF also reported that the participation of women in many areas is noteworthy, he said. Filipino women excelled in economic participation and opportunity, political empowerment, health and survival, educational attainment, political participation and economic equality.

In the same study, the Philippines ranked as the highest in the health and survival and educational attainment aspects, outpointing other neighboring countries.

The Philippines also ranked 10th in political empowerment and 16th in economic participation and opportunity, he added.

Data from the National Statistical Coordination Board also shows that Filipino women have higher employment rate at 93.3 percent compared to men with 92.7 percent.

The number of professional women is also increasing with 68.3 percent compared to men with 31.7 percent. Coloma also said that more than half or 52.1 percent of managers and executives in companies in the Philippines are women.

“Sa nalalabing dalawa pang taon sa termino ng Pangulo, batid niya na may mahalagang papel ang mga kababaihan sa patuloy nating pagsulong upang makamit ang malawakan at pangmatagalang kaunlaran para sa ating mga mamamayan,” he noted.

This year’s women’s day celebration has for its theme: “Juana, ang Tatag Mo ay Tatag Natin sa Pagbangon at Pagsulong.” PND (as)

Palace says government working with urgency to rebuild typhoon-devastated areas

The administration said it remains determined to carry out rebuilding and rehabilitation efforts in areas affected by Typhoon "Yolanda" and appealed to all sectors to work together.

In a radio interview Saturday over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Aquino administration has not lost its sense of urgency and will not waver in its rebuilding initiatives.

“Ibayong determinasyon ang hinaharap natin diyan. At panawagan din sa lahat na pagtulungan natin ito; dapat pagtulungan ito ng pambansa at lokal na pamahalaan,” he said adding that civic organizations and individuals who were not affected by the calamity should also help.

“Napakatindi po ng sense of urgency na ating patuloy na pinaiiral hinggil sa bagay na iyan at nananatili naman pong bukas ang ating pamahalaan kung sino man na mayroong suhestiyon o panukala kung paano pa mapapahusay ang rehabilitation efforts natin.”

With regards to groups calling for a dialogue with Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Coloma said the secretary is ready to meet with thesei groups to discuss relief efforts in affected communities.

He said that since the disaster struck, Secretary Soliman has observed hands-on approach to help the survivors. But he noted that the people should also consider the magnitude of the problem—with Typhoon Yolanda affecting 44 provinces and 171 municipalities and cities. Overall, there are some 17 million people devastated by the typhoon, he said.

“Hindi talaga biro-biro ‘yung mga dapat gawin sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng permanenteng pabahay, paglilipat sa mas ligtas na lugar sa ating mga mamamayan, at ‘yung patuloy pa ring pagbibigay ng relief doon sa mga nasa evacuation at temporary shelters,” he said.

Four months after the disaster, the government remains determined to rebuild affected areas, the Palace official said. He noted however that because of the severity of the problem, there are areas that may not get enough help.

And the government needs public assistance to get information from areas not receiving sufficient government support, he said.

“Maibigay lang po ‘yan sa atensyon ng ating pamahalaan ay sisikapin namang punuan kung anuman ang pagkukulang,” he said. PND (as)

Palace says centralization of gun licensing necessary

The Palace defended the centralization of gun licensing in the country saying the move is intended to clean the firearms registry of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to eventually reduce the proliferation of loose firearms.

It was reported that pro-gun groups have opposed the centralization on the renewal of gun licenses arguing it would only result to more loose firearms.

But in a radio interview Saturday, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the move is necessary as he hopes for public cooperation.

“Paninindigan po ng PNP ‘yan at sa tingin po namin ay makatuwiran ang kanilang ginagawa,” he told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

“Ito po ay isang mahalagang transitional measure para matiyak ‘yung integrity ng ating firearms registry. At sana ay makiisa din ang mga grupo ng mga mamamayan na sinasabing sila ay responsible gun owners dahil ‘yan din po ang layunin ng kampanyang ito ng ating pambansang kapulisan.”

Coloma said that according to the Philippine National Police (PNP) there is a total 1.7 million firearms in the country.

The PNP studied the records of the Firearms and Explosive Office and the civil security groups and found out that 60 to 70 percent of the records of firearm holders are spurious or fictitious.

The PNP observed that there are mismatches in the names, addresses and photos of licensed firearms owners, prompting the PNP to cleanse its gun licensing registry.

“Ibig sabihin, nagbunsod talaga ito ng duda at alinlangan doon sa integrity ng records. Kung sinuman ang resonableng tao na malaman ‘yan, siyempre, magiging konklusyon na dapat itong linisin, dapat ayusin ang records at dapat ibalik ang integridad ng firearms registry system natin,” Coloma said.

And with regards to issues on high delivery cost of licenses, Coloma said it could be assumed that anyone buying guns also has the money to pay for the delivery of licenses and cost should not be an issue.

“Hindi dapat maging katuwiran na magiging inconvenient ito dahil for anyone na gustong magkaroon ng prebilihiyo na maging may-ari ng firearm, at nakikita naman natin, sigurado namang may kakayahan ito dahil hindi naman biro-biro ang presyo ng isang baril,” he said. PND (as)