Thursday, 13 March 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Saturday, February 22, 2014

Palace hopes for more tourists after new survey tags Philippines among top 10 places to visit

Malacañang on Saturday welcomed a new online survey tagging the Philippines as among the top 10 places in the world to visit.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Palace hopes this would attract even more tourists to visit the Philippines.

"Good news yan talaga (That's really good news). We hope our inclusion in this particular top 10 will serve to draw more tourists to our shores," she said on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

She was referring to the online survey by Huffington Post Travel 2014, which recommended the Philippines for “bargain hunters, outdoorsy types and the food obsessed.”

It had said the “cosmopolitan affordability and splendid nature” makes it a destination that offers a lot for the money.

The Aquino administration is turning to tourism as it tries to recover from recent calamities, including super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). PND (jl)

Palace: EDSA spirit should not be affected by problems of key players in 1986 revolt

The problems now facing key players in the 1986 EDSA Revolution should not change the sense of People Power among Filipinos, Malacañang said Saturday.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said EDSA "belongs to the people" and should not focus solely on the major players in the 1986 revolt.

"You know, EDSA belongs to the people. EDSA will never be affected by what the problems being faced by some of the players who are part of it because primarily EDSA belongs to the people," she said on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

She was referring to the charges against Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, one of the lawmakers charged with plunder over the mess involving the Priority Development Assistance Fund.

The events leading to the peaceful revolt 28 years ago started on Feb. 22, when then Defense Minister Enrile and then Philippine Constabulary chief Fidel Ramos withdrew support for then President Ferdinand Marcos.

Enrile's and Ramos' actions triggered a series of events that catapulted the late Corazon Aquino, incumbent President Benigno Aquino III's mother, to the presidency.

But Valte also said that for this year, the administration is "looking beyond" the historical context of the 1986 revolt to "recognize people who quietly kept the spirit of People Power alive" by standing by their fellow filipinos in times of need.

She said this was evident in the last quarter of 2013, when many Filipinos were affected by recent calamities including super Typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan).

"Hindi lang nabubuhay ang diwa ng EDSA tuwing Feb. 25 kundi buhay na buhay ang diwa ng EDSA kung dumarating ang pagsubok sa atin bilang sambayanan sa pagtulong natin sa kapuwa (The spirit of EDSA is alive not just on Feb. 25, but when we help fellow Filipinos in their hour of need)," she said. PND (jl)

Government ensuring safety of Filipinos in Ukraine, Palace assures

The Philippine government is exerting all efforts to ensure the safety of Filipinos in Ukraine amid a political crisis there, Malacañang said Saturday.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Department of Foreign Affairs continues to watch out for the welfare of Filipino workers in Ukraine.

"Because of some of the events transpiring in Ukraine, particularly Kiev, the DFA has been monitoring the situation and making sure they are watching out for the welfare of Filipinos there," Valte said on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

She also said that so far, there has not been any report of Filipinos being adversely affected or injured due to the crisis in Ukraine.

The crisis in Ukraine began in November 2013 with anger over President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to scuttle a European Union-oriented trade deal and turn toward Russia.

Violence escalated earlier this week with government reporting at least 77 fatalities.

On Friday, however, reports said Yanukovych and opposition leaders agreed to a deal to end the political crisis and the bloody fighting, especially in Kiev. PND (jl)

Palace: New Visiting Forces Agreement Commission Chief a strategic thinker

Former Armed Forces chief of staff Eduardo Oban Jr. is the new head of the Visiting Forces Agreement Commission who will replace retired Army general Edilberto Adan, Malacañang said Saturday.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Adan is a "strategic thinker" who should be familiar with the issues in his new assignment.

"He will be no stranger to the issues that are being handled by the VFA Commission," Valte said on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

She added President Benigno Aquino III has regarded Oban as a "strategic thinker" and is confident in Oban's ability to get the job done.

Oban, before his appointment as head of the VFA Commission, had been appointed as undersecretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications in 2012.

Valte said Edwin Lopez will take Oban's place as DOTC Undersecretary. PND (jl)

Palace: Kinks in acquisition of Korean fighter jets ironed out

The Philippine government is moving a step closer to acquiring 12 fighter jets from South Korea following the approval of the payment mode for them, Malacañang said Saturday.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Palace's approval usually means President Benigno Aquino III's questions about the transaction had been addressed.

"Normally, kapag ganyan that means nasasagot po ng end user or nung department that is standing for or the proponent of the procurement. Usually po kapag ganyan that means na-ironed out na po ang mga kinks or at least the President's questions had been sufficiently answered by the department (Usually the approval of the mode of payment for the jets means the department concerned has sufficiently answered the President's questions, or the kinks have been ironed out)," Valte said on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

Earlier reports indicated the Palace is seeking to purchase 12 FA-50 fighter jets from South Korea.

The country's efforts to beef up its military capability come amid territorial disputes with China over parts of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). PND (jl)