Thursday, 13 March 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Friday, March 7, 2014

President Aquino receives Angkla Partylist representative in courtesy call

President Benigno S. Aquino III received Angkla Partylist Rep. Jesulito Manalo in a courtesy call Friday in Malacanang.

According to its website, Angkla is an organization of seafarers, their families and concerned individuals who value the country’s maritime sector.

Angkla aims to give voice to the needs and interests of the maritime industry, which it believes is a major contributor to the national economy.

It also believes that seafarers deserve to have representation in the government’s decision making process.

Similar to an anchor, Angkla Partylist envisions itself as a cohesive source of support and stability for the maritime industry, especially for the seafarers and those who depend on them.

Also present during the courtesy call were Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Transportation and Communication Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Maritime Industry Authority administrator Maximo Mejia Jr. and Office of the President Undersecretary Michael Frederick Musngi. PND (as)

President Aquino praises women’s contribution to rebuilding efforts after major calamities

President Benigno S. Aquino III recognized the contributions of Filipino women to the country’s rebuilding efforts in the midst of natural disasters that hit the Philippines last year.

In his message for the celebration of International Women's Day on Saturday (March 8) the President said his administration joins other nations in recognizing the importance and contribution of women to society.

“Nakikiisa tayo sa mundo sa pagdiriwang ng International Women’s Day at sa pagbibigay-pugay sa mga kababaihan sa loob at labas ng bansa. Sa araw na ito, mapagtibay nawa natin ang panatang itaguyod ang isang patas na lipunang nagkakaisa sa pagbuo ng maliwanag na bukas,” he said.

The country was hit with successive calamities last year such as the quake in Bohol and Cebu, the siege in Zamboanga, and the super typhoon "Yolanda" but the Filipino nation was able to withstand those challenges.

“Sa mga kababaihang nagpaalab ng liwanag ng pag-asa sa mga panahong iyon na walang-pagod na nag-aruga sa pamilyang nasalanta at nakilahok sa pagbangon, saludo ako sa inyo. Maging daan nawa ang pagdiriwang na ito upang mapanibago ang inyong pagtataya sa tuwid na daan,” the President said.

In the aftermath of these disasters, it becomes clear that every nation has an obligation to make their people safe and always and maintain a high state of readiness against those challenges.

But with the cooperation between the people and the government, the nation became more effective in responding to those disasters, he said.

“Kasama ng ating mga kababayan, patuloy nating buuin ang isang bansang handang kumalinga sa mga mamamayan at walang iniiwan sa kanyang pag-arangkada tungo sa minimithing malawakang kaunlaran,” he said.

Since its birth in the socialist movement, International Women's Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration of women across developed and developing countries.

For many decades, International Women's Day became stronger each year. And for years, the United Nations has held annual conferences to coordinate international efforts for women’s rights and participation in social, political and economic processes.

Women's organizations and governments around the world observed International Women's Day annually on March 8 by holding large-scale events to honor women and their contributions to global welfare. PND (as)

Palace hopeful on conviction of plunderers in multi-billion pork barrel scam

The administration said it remains optimistic in prosecuting those involved in the P10-billion pork barrel scam to give justice to the Filipino people with their conviction.

Some quarters say that attaining justice would be difficult especially once President Aquino steps down from power in 2016.

But as a response during a press briefing on Friday in Malacanang Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said, “But, on the part of this administration, ‘yung commitment natin is really to make sure that anyone who is supposed to be accountable is made accountable.”

“We don’t have a crystal ball to see into the future after 2016. We don’t know what will happen but, at least for this administration is committed to pursuing it to a logical end.”

She emphasized the position of the administration—to make everything evidence-based so that cases being filed could stand trial once they reach the courts.

Dennis Cunanan, the director general of the Technology Resource Center, testified before the Senate blue ribbon committee Thursday about his knowledge in the multi-billion pork barrel scam, which the Palace said could shed light to the anomaly.

The justice department has already filed cases against lawmakers involved in the scam who allegedly pocketed billions in public funds through the use of bogus non-government organizations. PND (as)

Palace: No Filipino hurt in Venezuela protests

No Filipino has been reported to be hurt so far or involved in mass actions in Venezuela, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said on Friday.

During a press briefing in Malacanang, Valte said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has raised the crisis alert level for Venezuela from 1 (precautionary phase) to 2 (restriction phase) because of the continued anti-government protests there.

“Restricted na ang kanilang movements, which is attendant to raising the alert level (to number two),” she said. “So far, we have not gotten reports of any Filipino who has been injured, or at least involved in the mass actions. And hopefully, it stays that way.”

The DFA issues alert level 2 when “there are real threats to the life, security, and property of Filipinos arising from internal disturbance or external threat.” Under alert level 2, Filipinos in Venezuela are advised “to limit non-essential movements, to avoid public places, and to prepare for possible evacuation.”

The Deputy Presidential Spokesperson also said that Filipinos abroad always follow the crisis alert level being issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

“Normally, … ang mga kababayan naman natin ay sumusunod sa mga alert level na binibigay ng DFA, especially, hindi naman ‘yan biglaan or at least when the DFA gets wind of any situation abroad where Filipinos might, you know, run into, kinakausap nila ang mga community leaders, at meron na ‘yang mga paunang pasabi na mag-ingat po tayo sa mga ganitong pangyayari,” Valte said.

The DFA said the Philippine Embassy in Mexico, which has jurisdiction over Venezuela, has already dispatched a consular officer to Caracas to provide on the ground assessment, to coordinate with the Philippine Honorary Consul General in Venezuela, and to assist the estimated 104 Filipino nationals in that country. PND (co)

DOJ mulling transfer of Napoles to ordinary jail, says Palace

The Palace said the justice department is already studying the possibility of Janet Lim-Napoles being transferred to a regular detention facility if the court makes such an order.

Sen. Francis Escudero has been calling for Napoles transfer to an ordinary jail since the government could not extract any substantial information from her that could shed light to the P10-billion pork barrel scam. Napoles is accused of masterminding the multi-billion peso scam.

“Pinag-aaralan na nila (DOJ) ‘yan, kung ano ang mga permutations sakaling nailipat siya sa regular city jail as a detainee. So, at least ngayon pinag-aaralan ng DOJ. Bukas na sila doon sa posibilidad at tinitingnan na nila in the foreseeable future kung sakaling ma-order nga ng korte na ganun ang mangyayari,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a press briefing on Friday.

With regards to the request of Napoles to have a check up at St. Luke’s, Valte said that during her first medical assessment, she was granted by the court to allow her doctors to be present during the examination.

“The first check up that was granted by the court, her doctors were allowed to be present. So, she had medical professionals of her own choosing present at the PNP General Hospital,” Valte said.

She said they will leave it to the DOJ whether to oppose or allow Napoles to be assessed in a hospital of her own choosing.

Prosecutors alleged that Napoles, through connivance with lawmakers, initiated a scheme to siphon billions of pork barrel funds for their personal ends.

The DOJ has already filed cases against lawmakers involved in the scam in the Office of the Ombudsman. PND (as)

Palace welcomes Delfin Lee’s arrest, vows to track down other top fugitives

Malacanang on Friday welcomed the arrest of real estate magnate Delfin Lee saying that the wheels of justice could finally move.

Lee, the alleged mastermind in the P6.6-billion Globe Asiatique scam, was arrested by authorities last Thursday night at a hotel in Manila.

In a press briefing with Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte, she said Lee’s arrest shows the government’s commitment to track down top fugitives in the country.

“I recall, at one event, the President did mention na "kahit kayo magtago, mahahanap at mahahanap kayo.” So this is a good step, at least for government because, finally, cases can move,” Valte said.

She said President Benigno S. Aquino III was updated about Lee’s arrest and assumed that he was pleased with the fall of one of the so-called “Big 5." President Aquino earlier offered higher rewards leading to the arrest of Lee and other four high-profile fugitives namely retired Army Major General Jovito Palparan, former Palawan governor Joel Reyes, his brother Mario Reyes and Dinagat Representative Ruben Ecleo. Lee has a P2-million bounty on his head.

Valte said the victims involved in all four other cases should not lose hope as the government continues to hunt down the remaining fugitives.

Malacanang, meanwhile, supported Justice Secretary Leila de Lima for saying that the arrest warrant against Lee remains in effect.

Valte said that the Court of Appeals’ decision on Lee’s case is still not final and executory since the Department of Justice appealed it.

“The mode of appeal, as lawyers like to call it, was under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. Thereby, hindi po naging final and executory dahil nagsampa tayo ng apela sa naging desisyon ng Court of Appeals. And to prove positive the fact that it did not become final and executory are two things: one, the warrant of arrest was not recalled, which is normally the case when the quashing is made final, pero hindi pa ito na-recall; at pangalawa, yung hold departure order against Delfin Lee was not lifted,” she said.

Lee went into hiding in May 2012 after a Pampanga court ordered his arrest for syndicated estafa charges for allegedly defrauding the government of some P6.65 billion in bogus housing loans. PND (jb)