Thursday, 13 March 2014

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)