Tuesday, 1 April 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, March 31, 2014

President Aquino leads PNPA graduation ceremony; tells graduates to serve with utmost dedication

President Benigno S. Aquino III said he expects the new graduates of Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) "Mandilaab" 2014 will serve the people with justice, integrity and dedication when they go outside the academy.

In his message during the graduation rites in Camp Castaneda in Silang, Cavite, the President said he hopes the new police, jail, and fire officials will shun corruption and will serve their "bosses" with utmost dedication.

"Ang tinitiyak ko naman: kung handa kayong tumalikod sa tukso; kung handa kayong tugisin ang tumatakas sa batas, at walang takot kayong susuong sa peligro para protektahan ang inyong kapwa, magiging katambal ng inyong serbisyo ang tiwala ng bawat isang Pilipino," the President told the graduates during the graduation rites.

"Tandaan din ninyo: Anumang pinalusot ninyong katiwalian sa inyong hanay ay pihadong magdadala ng perhuwisyo sa ating kababayan. Kapag pinili ninyong magbulag-bulagan sa pang-aapi sa karapatan ng mamamayan, asahan ninyong bukas-makalawa, karapatan naman ninyo ang mismong yuyurakan."

The President also challenged the PNPA Class Mandilaab to always stick to their principle and not be tempted by material things.

"Saan man kayong lugar madestino, anumang luho o tukso ang sumubok sa tibay ng inyong prinsipyo; lagi kayong pumanig sa tama, at sa kung ano ang mas makabubuti sa inyong kapwa," he said.

"Nawa'y isabuhay at panindigan ninyo ang panata ng bawat kadeteng Mandilaab: ang saysay ng buhay ninyong mga mandirigma, ay nasa pag-aalay nito sa kapwa," he added.

The chief executive also mentioned the ongoing reforms being in carried out in the Philippine National Police, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and the Bureau of Fire Protection. Policemen can now serve the public with ease after the government purchased 74,879 Glock 17 pistols. Most of the firearms have been distributed to the PNP personnel and additional pistols will also be distributed once ballistic tests are completed, the President said.

With the release of the new pistols to policemen, the PNP will soon achieved the 1:1 police-to-pistol ratio. PNPA Class Mandilaab will also be issued with new Glock pistols, the President said. The government has so far allotted more than P2 billion for PNP's mobility, firearms, investigation, communication, and rehabilitation components under its Operational Transformation Plan.

The procurement of 882 units of patrol jeeps, 17,680 units of assault rifle, and more than 200,000 magazines for basic assault rifle and around 5,000 units of mobile radio is also ongoing, the President said.

The government will also soon approve the domestic manufacturing of small arms ammunition to address the needs of the AFP, PNP, and other law enforcement agencies, the President reported.

Jail personnel will also be issued with 4,888 units of 9mm pistols to address the 41 percent deficit on firearms among jail guards.

The Bureau of Fire Protection will also get new equipment, the President noted. Last year, the government purchased 76 Rosenbauer fire trucks with high quality engines and improved water pump discharge capacity.

The government also allocated P3.6 billion to buy 300 fire trucks and build 300 fire stations nationwide, he added. These reforms became possible through clean and efficient management of the present government, the chief executive said.

"Abot-tanaw na po ang permanenteng transpormasyon sa ating lipunan. Binubuksan na natin ang bagong kabanata sa kasaysayan ng ating bansa kung saan ang kumakayod nang husto ay ginagantimpalaan ng pag-asenso," he said.

"Nawa'y maging alagad kayo ng positibong pagbabago upang magpatuloy ang kaunlarang tinatamasa. Sa gabay at tulong ng Panginoon, at sa pakikibalikat ng sambayanan, lalo pa nating palakasin ang hanay nating tumatahak sa tuwid na daan, diretso sa kinabukasang tunay na mapayapa, patas, at maunlad," the President added. PND (as)

President Aquino to meet Singaporean counterpart this week

 President Benigno S. Aquino III will meet Singaporean President Tony Tan Keng Yam who will be on a four-day state visit to the country this week, Malacañang announced on Monday.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda in a statement said the two heads of state would discuss matters of mutual interest to the Philippines and Singapore, including trade and investment, as well as the Filipino community in the Lion City.

Like the other heads of state that visited the country recently, President Tan’s itinerary would include a side trip to the areas devastated by super typhoon ‘Yolanda’ on top of his other activities.

Lacierda said President Tan would hand over donations contributed by the people of Singapore to the partners of the Singapore Red Cross involved in rehabilitation projects in Yolanda-affected communities.

“He will also fly to Basey, Western Samar to present medical supplies to the Basey District Hospital, a joint rehabilitation project of the Singapore Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross,” he added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in an earlier announcement said this would be President Tan’s first state visit to the Philippines reciprocating President Aquino’s state visit to Singapore in March 2011.

President Tan will be accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Mary Tan, and a delegation composed of Minister Grace Fu, Senior Parliamentary Secretary Hawazi Daipi, and Members of the Parliament Dr. Lam Pin Min and Mr. Vikram Nair during his visit here. PND (hdc)

President Aquino says he has an obligation to defend country's sovereignty

President Benigno S. Aquino III reiterated his obligation to defend the country's sovereignty adding other countries should recognize the Philippines's rights to defend its own interest in West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

In an interview during the graduation rites at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) in Silang, Cavite, the President said his government is not challenging China or initiating a provocation.

But he said he believes that China should recognize the country's right to defend its sovereignty. He also said the country is pursuing a requirement on a peaceful and rules-based approach in resolving the dispute in the West Philippine Sea when it elevated its case to the international tribunal.

"We went through arbitration primarily because that is a means to resolve the dispute na consistent with the policy na peaceful, at saka in conformity with the international law," he told reporters.

Another track being pursued by the country is the crafting of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).

So far, ASEAN member countries only agreed in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in 2002, and the Philippines wants to push a Code of Conduct after ten years. The Philippines has no other choice but international arbitration, he said, arguing that the Ayungin Shoal currently being contested by China is clearly within the country's 200 exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The President also commended the members of the Armed forces who have been manning a government position in the Ayungin Shoal through a dilapidated ship.

"I should pay special tribute to the men of the AFP. We have men who had to be provisioned in Ayungin Shoal. They accomplished the mission without, I believe, increasing the tension and did it in a way that didn't pose a threat to any other country--again consistent with the peaceful approach," he said.

Changing personnel and bringing supplies are becoming a challenge for the Philippines as China has started to block supply ships from reaching government's position.

On Sunday, the Philippines filed a memorial or a written pleading in the international tribunal containing evidence and basis for its claims in the West Philippine Sea. PND (as)

PIA News Dispatch - Sunday, March 30, 2014

Aquino asks Filipino-Chinese businessmen to contribute to nation building

President Benigno S. Aquino III encouraged the members of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FFCCCII) to contribute more to nation building and aggressively invest in people.

During the federation’s 60th anniversary at Solaire Resort and Casino in Parañanque City Saturday, the President praised the organization for its contribution in education, healthcare, and the government’s rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of Typhoon "Yolanda."

“Today, on your 60th anniversary, allow me to pose an even greater challenge to all of you: to take an even bigger part in nation-building by truly investing in our people,” the President told the members of the FFCCCII in his message.

Historically, the Filipino-Chinese have always been widely acknowledged for their keen business sense and the President said they can partner with the government to share their business acumen to the people.

Filipino-Chinese businessmen can create apprenticeship programs for aspiring Filipino entrepreneurs so they can learn from some of the country’s most experienced business people.

“I encourage you to do this because such a program will expand the menu of options available for our people. It enables Filipinos to learn from their fellow Filipinos, and rely on their innate creativity, skill, and work ethic to build businesses, directly create jobs, and contribute to their local economies,” the President said.

Since most of FFCCCII members are large players in their respective industries, the President invited them to become more involved in micro, small, and medium enterprises connecting in with the larger supply chain.

He cited Jollibee that made a difference in local communities by buying onions from small-scale farmers through the Farmer Entrepreneurship Program. Jollibee even expanded its program to cover rice, bell peppers, and tomatoes in Quezon, Bukidnon, and Misamis Oriental, the President said adding he was confident that if the Chinese-Filipino businessmen are willing to strengthen their commitment they can do the same in their respective industries.

“The potential for growth is staggering: In 2011, MSMEs and large enterprises generated a total of 6.3 million jobs. Together, we can bring this figure up by seizing opportunities for growth that are just on the horizon,” the President noted.

Giving Filipinos jobs and better income will be good for businesses because it will enhanced their buying power, according to the President.

“I ask you to consider this because above and beyond the economic benefits, such an initiative would cement your legacy as a group that truly uplifts our countrymen—and at the same time takes a starring role in affirming the Philippines’ stature as a formidable contender in the global marketplace,” he added.

The President also hoped that a few years from now more and more organizations will consider what the FFCCCII has been doing for the benefit of the entire country.

Also during the event, the President thanked FFCCCII for its ongoing construction of 500 housing units in Palo, Leyte, which is part of the P150 million it raised for relief and rehabilitation efforts after Typhoon Yolanda.

The President also expressed his gratitude to FFCCCII for the 1,360 classrooms it donated that helped boost the government efforts to end the classroom backlog in the country.

He also thanked FFCCCII for its medical and dental missions in and around Metro Manila, treating around 800 patients for each mission. PND (as)

Government still open to talks with NDF

The government is still open to peace talks with communist insurgents, in this case the National Democratic Front, who want to start informal talks in May, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said on Sunday.

“Nananatili pong bukas ang ating pamahalaan sa mga usaping pangkapayapaan,” Coloma said over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan in a live press conference.

He said he would refer this matter to the Office of the Presidential Peace Adviser as they are the agency mandated to act on discussions about peae talks.

“Isasangguni po natin ang bagay na ‘yan sa Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process sapagkat sila ang may pangunahing responsibilidad sa pagsasagawa ng mga usaping ‘yan,” Coloma said. PND (rck)

Government expanding programs to aid fresh graduates, unemployed--Palace

The government continues to expand its employment programs to provide jobs for thousands expected to graduate this year and those who remain unemployed, Malacañang said on Sunday.

In an interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary (PCOO) Herminio Coloma said 95,935 positions in different private and public corporations and agencies are currently up for grabs.

This is according to the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) www.phil-job.net, an internet-based job and applicant matching system, which aims to fast track the jobseeker's search for employment and the employer's search for manpower.

Coloma added the government is also providing financial aid to self-employed individuals, landless farmers, non-wage domestic workers, young workers with dependents, low-income earners, and those who do not have permanent employment due to calamities through the Integrated Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program.

He said this program also covers those who are listed in the Department of Social Welfare and Development's national household targeting system.

The Communications Secretary further mentioned that the DOLE, in cooperation with the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), would conduct application caravan and e-services to bring their services closer to the fresh graduates of nursing and education courses in preparation for their licensure exams.

In a press briefing held in Malacañang last March 13, DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said there is an estimated 600,000 to 700,000 new entrants to the labor force this year, although they have not yet studied as to how many among those would immediately be looking for jobs. PND (hdc)

PIA News Dispatch - Saturday, March 29, 2014

Palace: TESDA now offers language courses

In line with the Aquino administration’s thrust to create more jobs and widen the opportunities for the Filipino work force, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) has opened foreign language courses in its regional centers especially for overseas Filipino workers leaving for abroad for high-paying jobs, the Palace said on Saturday.

Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview that TESDA is now offering language courses such Mandarin, Spanish, Korean, Nihongo and Arabic.

TESDA is also encouraging new graduates to study foreign language to enhance their chance of landing a job abroad, Valte told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

“Sa mga bagong graduates natin, kung nag-iisip pa kayo kung kaya ba ng ating mga magulang na makapagtuloy tayo ng kolehiyo, puwedeng tingnan ang mga vocational courses sa TESDA dahil maraming mga bagong offerings katulad ng mga foreign language courses,” she said.

According to Valte there is an increasing demand for Filipinos who can speak different languages because they could also be employed as tour guides in the country as more tourists arrive in the Philippines.

There is a high demand for tour guides who can speak Korean and Mandarin, according to Valte. Tour guides can also work as tutors and translators, she added.

Multinational companies are also hiring translators who can speak different languages, she said.

Valte encouraged OFWs to visit TESDA’s website if they are interested in the new offerings.

“Para din ito sa mga OFW natin na mangingibang-bansa na gustong matuto nung language sa lugar na pupuntahan nila to find jobs much easier, check natin ang mga bagong courses na ino-offer sa TESDA,” she said.

Aside from TESDA’s new offerings, the vocational learning institution maintains its usual mechanical and technical courses such as hotel housekeeping courses, barista, hairdressing, salon professionals and other courses, Valte said. PND (as)

Palace asks naysayers to give peace a chance in Mindanao

The Palace told naysayers to give peace a chance in Mindanao after the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) this week.

In a radio interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said those doubting the peace pact should look into the documents agreed by both sides.

“We invite you to look at the annexes or the documents that we have put up online in the interest of transparency. This will be the basis of the crafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law that will hopefully be passed by Congress,” Valte said.

“And let’s give it a chance. There are so many groups that are supportive of this peace deal. Let’s give it a chance,” she added.

President Benigno S. Aquino III led Thursday the signing of the CAB aimed at ending the decades-long conflict that claimed the lives of hundreds of people in Muslim Mindanao.

The President and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak witnessed the signing of the said agreement at the Kalayaan grounds in Malacanang.

In his message prior to the signing, the President said he will aggressively push for a just and equitable Bangsamoro Basic Law after Thursday’s signing.

Meanwhile, addressing the concerns of the employees of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) who fear they may lose their jobs once a new Bangsamoro political entity is established, Valte said the stakeholders considered their welfare during the negotiation for the peace agreement.

Prior to this however, ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman assured government workers in the autonomous region that they will be retained in their positions.

“I’m sure na isa ito sa mga bagay na napag-usapan na ng mga stakeholders dito, but nonetheless, we’ll ask for clarifications on this. Of course, na-consider naman ang kanilang welfare in the crafting of the agreement at isa na ‘yan doon din sa mga bagay na we should all keep in mind para hindi sila makalimutan,” Valte said. PND (as)

Philippines to push through memorial filing with arbitral tribunal, says Palace

There is no turning back in the Philippines’s filing Sunday of a written pleading against China’s claims over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), the Palace said on Saturday.

“In all of this, the Philippines will always do what is right. The government will always do what is right for our country and for our countrymen,” Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

Asked if the Philippines is ready to push for the arbitration even without the support of its neighbors, Valte said the Philippine government is determined to fight for what is right and fair. The country is also inspired by the support it has been getting from the international community, the Palace official said.

Other claimant-countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) were allegedly being cowed by China not to follow the actions taken by the Philippines.

“It's apparent from all the support that we’re getting from the international community for our chosen track na kailangan ito under international law and for a peaceful resolution of the dispute,” she said.

The Philippines is also prepared for whatever sanction that China will impose.

“I think in all of this, the Philippines, really, will do what is right. China can do what it prefers to do on this matter.”

It was reported that the Chinese leadership is furious about the Philippines’s impending memorial filing.

A memorial is a voluminous document containing very convincing evidence against China's claims over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

The Philippines is required to submit the written pleading through e-mails and courier deliveries, which should come with soft copies in storage devices.

The memorial should also contain all documentary, witness, expert, and other evidence that the Philippines intends to rely on, based on the Rules of Procedure set by the designated arbitral tribunal supported by the United Nations. PND (as)

Palace asks Filipinos to participate in this year’s Earth Hour

Malacanang encourages Filipinos to join this year’s Earth Hour by switching off lights from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm Saturday to contribute to protecting Mother Earth.

Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview that each year, more and more Filipinos participate in the Earth Hour.

“Hopefully, we will surpass last year’s number of participants at sana mas marami ang tumugon sa panawagan na magpatay tayo ng ating mga ilaw mamayang 8:30 hanggang 9:30 ng gabi,” Valte told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

“Isang oras lang naman ang hinihingi at saka makakatulong din ito sa atin kasi summer ngayon.”

Aside from cutting electricity use, Valte said participating in the Earth Hour is also a good opportunity for families to stay together and talk.

“Kung may isa kayong kuwarto diyan, may roof deck kayo, may balkonahe kayo, or kung meron kayong sala, for one hour get together with the family and take advantage of that hour na magpapatay tayo ng ating mga ilaw at puwede naman tayong mag-bonding pa ng isang oras mamayang gabi,” she said.

The Philippines has been one of Earth Hour’s strongest supporters, having topped town and city participation levels from 2009 to 2013.

Earth Hour is a global project of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF)-International that has gained the support and involvement of millions of people in 154 countries.

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, when 2.2 million homes and businesses turned their lights off for one hour to make a statement on environment change.

It eventually became a global sustainability movement with the participation of over 50 million people in 35 countries.

On March 28, 2009, more than 4,000 cities in 88 countries officially switched off to pledge their support for the planet, making Earth Hour 2009 the world’s largest global environment change initiative. PND (as)

PIA News Dispatch - Friday, March 28, 2014

President Aquino receives JICA President in courtesy call

President Benigno S. Aquino III received Akihiko Tanaka, the President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in a courtesy in Malacanang on Friday.

Tanaka replaced Sadako Ogata as JICA president on April 1, 2012.
Before assuming his post, Tanaka was the vice president of the University of Tokyo and a scholar of international politics.

He obtained his B.A. in International Relations at the University of Tokyo in 1977 and his Ph.D. in Political Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981.

The current JICA president specializes on theories of international politics, contemporary international relations in East Asia, and Japan’s foreign policy. He also wrote numerous books and articles in Japanese and in English.

In 2012, he received the medal of honor with Purple Ribbon for his academic achievements.

JICA in the Philippines actively provides cooperation in economic growth, poverty reduction, disaster mitigation, other development issues such as health and governance, and in promoting peace and development in conflict-affected Mindanao.

JICA aims to promote inclusive and dynamic development for all Filipinos with its initiatives.

JICA is also a major partner of the government in rebuilding typhoon-ravaged areas in the Visayas. It said it will continue supporting the recovery of those areas and assist the government in fast-tracking rehabilitation efforts.

In his message before the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro Thursday, President Aquino thanked JICA, along with other international agencies for their assistance that led to the eventual signing of the Bangsamoro peace pact. PND (as)

Palace: AFP already investigating gun-running racket involving military official

The Armed Forces of the Philippines is already looking into allegations that a military official had dealings with US State Senator Leland Yee who has been arrested for firearms trafficking and corruption charges.

In a press briefing in Malacanang on Friday, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte was asked by reporters if the Palace instructed the AFP to investigate the issue.

“There is no need for the directive. I spoke with Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala this morning, and the AFP is already looking into that particular report,” Valte told reporters.

“We have also been trying to get a name or at least more information about the alleged involvement of a supposed military officer.”

The Palace official said there is still no significant information produced by the ongoing investigation but she said the Palace trusts that the AFP will get to the bottom of it.

If true, Valte said it is alarming that a military official is involved in such a highly organized crime.

With regards to reports saying Yee allegedly visited the Philippines for the scheme, Valte said they are leaving the issue to the justice department to look into it.

US federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment Wednesday against Yee, accusing him of conspiring to commit wire fraud and traffic firearms.

Twenty six people, including a former school board president were indicted on charges related to an extensive crime ring headed by well-known Chinatown figure in the US. PND (as)

Palace expects success of pro-RH law advocates in Supreme Court deliberations

The Palace said it hopes pro-RH advocates could successfully defend their case during the oral arguments in the Supreme Court for the eventual implementation of the law.

Asked to comment on the government position on the controversial law, Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the government has allies to defend the RH Law in the Supreme Court.

“Hindi lang po ‘yung national government pero maraming Pilipino kasing sumusuporta talaga dito doon sa batas ng Responsible Parenthood,” she told reporters in a press briefing in Malacanang on Friday.

“Umaasa po tayo na nagiging maganda ‘yung mga pagtatanggol ng mga advocates for Responsible Parenthood doon sa oral arguments sa Supreme Court.”

Valte said the Palace backs the Responsible Parenthood Law because it will empower families to decide on the size of its members.

“I mean every family is different. So every family necessarily would have to make its own decision on how best they can take care of their families given the resources that are available to them,” she said.

If every Filipino family is empowered to make those decisions on their own with the appropriate information, then no family will have to be forced to fend for a bigger family when in fact they wanted a smaller family size, she added.

And if the government could assist families manage the size for their members, families could focus on other productive things other than child rearing, Valte said.

Pro-RH advocates argue that as more teenage girls get pregnant and experience complications arising from pregnancies, the SC must rule its legality.
The high court last year issued a status quo ante order effectively stopping the implementation of the law.

The Supreme Court is expected to deliberate on the petitions against the RH law on April 8 during its summer session in Baguio City. PND (as)

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, March 27, 2014

UNDP Administrator Helen Clark pays courtesy call on President Aquino

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark paid a courtesy call on President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday in Malacanan Palace.

Clark, former New Zealand Prime Minister, is in the country to strengthen UNDP’s partnership and cooperation with the Philippine government, as well as to witness the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

During a press briefing in Malacanang, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said President Aquino and UNDP Administrator Clark would discuss issues of mutual interests, such as the UN’s participation on the rehabilitation of areas hit by Typhoon Yolanda.

“Si Helen Clark po ang tagapangulo o pinuno ng United Nations Development Programme at malaki po ang itinutulong sa atin ng United Nations through its various agencies, kasama na po ‘yung UNDP at ang Commission on Humanitarian Assistance na noon pang dumating ang super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) ay nandito na sa ating bansa, kaya ipagpapatuloy po ang pakikipag-ugnayan ng ating bansa sa United Nations,” Coloma said.

“Inaasahan po natin na tatalakayin ng Pangulong Aquino at ni Chairperson Helen Clark ‘yung mga paksa na mayroong mutual interest ang ating bansa at ang United Nations, kung paano pa mapapalakas ‘yung partisipasyon ng United Nations sa pagbabagong tatag ng mga Yolanda-affected areas, at ‘yun ding kabuuan ng ating development plan dahil ito ay UNDP,” the secretary added.

Secretary Coloma said the President and the UNDP’s administrator might also discuss the progress in the Philippine Development Plan, the government’s development framework that seeks to address poverty, create employment opportunities and achieve inclusive growth.

“Siguro pwede na ring matalakay diyan ‘yung mga updates doon sa ating Philippine Development Plan dahil big picture ang concern nitong UNDP, ‘yung mas malaking larawan ng pangmatagalang kaunlaran ng buong bansang Pilipinas,” he said.

On Wednesday, UNDP Administrator Clark visited typhoon-hit Tacloban to see the ongoing recovery efforts there. PND (co)

Palace challenges ex-NBI deputies to go to court

Malacañang challenged the two dismissed National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to file a case against those they think had ties with pork barrel scam suspect Janet Lim-Napoles instead of diverting the issue.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. is referring to dismissed NBI deputy directors Ruel Lasala and Reynaldo Esmeralda, who he said must have concrete evidences rather than speculations.

“Siguro po mas mainam kung meron talaga silang kongkretong pinanghahawakan sa halip na magsalaysay ng maraming kuwento. Maghain na lamang sila ng kaso kung meron talaga silang pinanghahawakan,” said Coloma in a press briefing.

Coloma said that the two dismissed NBI deputy directors are just redirecting the issue.

“Hindi dapat malihis and ating atensyon dulot ng mga haka-haka at espekulasyon,” the Palace Official said.

Recently, Lasala presented a closed-circuit television footage showing that Napoles visited NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas in his office last year. PND (ag)

Malaysian Prime Minister pays courtesy call to President Aquino prior to signing of Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro

President Benigno S. Aquino III welcomed Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Abdul Razak who called on the President prior to the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro on Thursday in Malacanang.

The Prime Minister arrived in Malacanang at around 3:50 p.m. and was accorded foyer honors before proceeding to the reception hall to sign the guest book.

He then was ushered to the Music Room on Malacanang to meet with President Aquino.

After the meeting which lasted some 30 minutes, the President and the Prime Minister then proceeded to the Kalayaan grounds to witness the historic signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that is seen to bring peace and prosperity to Mindanao. PND (rck)

Malaysian PM Najib thanks Philippines for support in the continuing search for missing flight MH370

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Thursday thanked the Philippines for its assistance in the ongoing search efforts for the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 carrying 239 people.

Prime Minister Najib was invited by President Benigno S. Aquino III to witness the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro held at the Malacanan Palace grounds.

Malaysia has been the facilitator of peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front since 2001.

Prime Minister Najib said Malaysia is grateful for the support of its neighboring countries, including the Philippines, in the search for the missing Flight MH370.

“Our belief in cooperation across borders has been strengthened by tragedy,” the Malaysian premier said in his speech during the signing ceremony of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro on Thursday.

“The loss of 239 people on board Flight MH370 has been devastating. Malaysia is grateful for the support of our friends and neighbors, including the Philippines, in the continuing search effort. At this difficult time, we draw strength from the compassionate response of our fellow nations,” he added.

The Prime Minister has earlier confirmed that the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, “ended in the southern Indian Ocean.” Flight MH370, bound for Beijing, disappeared on March 8. PND (co)

Aquino leads signing of peace pact with MILF, says he will aggressively push basic law

President Benigno S. Aquino III led Thursday the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) aimed at ending decades-long conflict that claimed the lives of hundreds of people in Muslim Mindanao.

The President and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak witnessed the signing of agreement at the Kalayaan grounds in Malacanang, Thursday.

In his message prior to the signing, the President said he will aggressively push for a just and equitable Bangsamoro Basic Law after the signing of the said agreement.

“My administration will go all out to forge a principled consensus for enduring security and prosperity; I expect the deliberations in Congress to be characterized by a sincere desire to improve on the Bangsamoro Basic Law—and not by self-interest that only aims to perpetuate an untenable status quo,” the President said in his speech.

The President said that currently, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission is working hard to draft an equitable, practical, and empowering, Bangsamoro Basic Law that will serve the interests of the entire nation.

Their current mission is to draft and pass this law so that it will be presented to the people for ratification in a plebiscite, he said. The goal is to have the Bangsamoro Transition Authority in place by 2015 to serve as the interim Bangsamoro government until the elections in 2016.

At the same time, the President called on everyone to widen the avenues for trust and positive engagement and cast aside past prejudices and contribute to the atmosphere of optimism to sustain the momentum for the development of Mindanao.

It should be the paramount concern of all people of goodwill to do their part, replacing cynicism with hope, and sorrow with harmony, peace, and prosperity, the chief executive said.

The country must solve the huge imbalance between Muslim Mindanao and the rest of the country to start regional development.

“If we are to truly address the root causes of conflict, we must close the gap between the region and the rest of Filipino society,” the President said.

Among the signatories to the agreement were government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal and Malaysian facilitator Tengku Ghafar. PND (as)

Aquino expresses sympathy with Malaysian counterpart owing to airline tragedy

President Benigno S. Aquino III personally empathized with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak whose government is currently in the middle of providing closure to the tragedy caused by the ill-fated Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370.

Prime Minister Razak was in Malacañang Thursday to grace the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

“Your Excellency, the Filipino people and I are filled with sincere appreciation for your presence here today and that of your wife Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor—especially since we know full well that you and your government have the heavy responsibility of attending to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370,” President Aquino said during a merienda cena hosted in honor of his Malaysian counterpart and other dignitaries after the historic event.

“Such a tragedy understandably led to an outpouring of emotion—of uncertainty, anxiety, and anger—and you, as head of government, were thrust into a position where you were asked to immediately answer questions to which the full answers were not available. I empathize with you fully.”

The Philippines was among the many countries that immediately came to Malaysia’s rescue by offering its military assets after the mysterious disappearance of Flight MH370. President Aquino reiterated this gesture.

“The sadness of this event weighs heavily on all people of goodwill around the world, and in this spirit, the Filipino people and myself reiterate our offer of any and all forms of assistance that we can possibly render,” he said, adding that “it is especially during the most challenging times when brother nations should stand in support for one another.”

Flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur, carrying 239 passengers and crew, and was supposed to land in Beijing when it vanished in midflight on March 8. After weeks of intense search, Prime Minister Razak confirmed in a recent statement that “ended in the southern Indian Ocean.” Its wreckage, however, is yet to be recovered by authorities. PND (hdc)

Government determined to protect gains of Mindanao peace process, says President Aquino

President Benigno S. Aquino III vowed to protect the gains of the Mindanao peace agreement and warned those planning to derail peace in the region that they will suffer the consequences of their actions.

“May this also stand as a warning to those who wish to derail our path to a final, lasting peace—to those who wish to sow divisiveness for self-interest, and to those who continue to wield arms to pursue their own agendas: So many people have suffered for so long; so many of our stakeholders have worked so hard to arrive at this point,” the President said during his message prior to the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in Malacanang on Thursday.

“I will not let peace be snatched from my people again. Not now, when we have already undertaken the most difficult and most significant steps to achieve it. Those who want to test the resolve of the state will be met with a firm response based on righteousness and justice—as we demonstrated in Zamboanga City,” he added.

The Aquino administration foiled an attack by the members of the Moro National Liberation Front faction by sending a huge number of military personnel in Zamboanga last year.

Changing the status quo is daunting, he said, noting that he is determined to spearhead a long-term transformation of Mindanao rather than carrying out stop-gap solutions.

The President also thanked those who worked for the successful conclusion of the peace pact signing such as Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak of Malaysia, the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Peace adviser Teresita Deles.

The President also thanked the members of the International Monitoring Team—Indonesia, Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, Norway, the European Union and Libya, for creating a peaceful environment conducive to the negotiations.

He also thanked the International Contact Group reiterating the country’s gratitude to Japan, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and the NGO-members of the ICG.

He expressed his gratitude to the members of the Independent Commission on Policing such as Canada, Australia, and Japan. The role played by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation was also of great help, he said.

The President also mentioned the assistance of the United States through USAID; Japan through the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD); Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, and the European Union through their contributions to the Mindanao Trust Fund; Australia and New Zealand for the Facility for Advisory Support for Transition Capacities (FASTRAC).

“We also thank the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and again the European Union for the assistance that you have extended to us,” he said.
“You all have the enduring gratitude of the Filipino people. We will never forget the support you have given, and continue to give us,” the President added. PND (as)

President Aquino hopes to go on a vacation with Prime Minister Najib Razak in Mindanao

Hoping that Mindanao would finally achieve true and lasting peace, President Benigno Aquino III expressed his willingness to take a vacation with Prime Minister Najib Razak in Mindanao.

In his speech during the historic signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in Malacanang Thursday, President Aquino said he would imagine himself enjoying a beautiful sunset with Prime Minister Razak and other officials who played a major role in sealing a peace pact with the biggest Muslim rebel group in the Philippines.

“If our goals as a nation are fulfilled, my brothers, Al Haj Murad, Mohagher Iqbal, and myself can all look forward to that one day in the not-so-distant future, when we will all sit back and enjoy a quiet sunset in Mindanao—perhaps with the company of friends such as Prime Minister Najib Razak,” the President said.

“That day, we will look back to the 27th of March 2014, and allow ourselves a little pride. For now, more work needs to be done, and I look forward to building a peaceful, prosperous, and inclusive Bangsamoro with all of you,” he added.

During a merienda cena hosted by the President in honor of the visiting Prime Minister, His Excellency Najib Razak responded to the President’s statement saying: “I was very touched in your speech when you said you hope that one day we can be in that part of the world, watching the sunset, having a dream together.”

“And I will allow you to do other things as well. And provided you will allow me to do what I want to do as well,” he further quipped eliciting laughter from the attendees of the ceremonial toast.

“But above all, we will sit down as brothers. And together with, of course, Mr. Murad Ibrahim and all the others who played a part in this peace process. So our tribute to all of you and may that one day come into being,” Razak ended.

Prime Minister Razak took a short visit to the Philippines to witness the signing of the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Malaysia is the third party facilitator in the peace talks and also the head of the International Monitoring Team. PND (jb)

Mindanao peace agreement could serve as model to others, says Prime Minister Najib

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak said the recently signed Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) could serve as a model to others wanting to end conflict through peaceful dialogue.

In his message during a toast in Malacanang after the signing of the CAB, Prime Minister Najib said the beautiful Palace setting for the signing is fitting that 40 years of conflict has now come to an end and begins a new era that ushers progress and justice in the Bangsamoro.

“And what you have aspired for, which you could not get through violence, through conflict, you will get through peace and by working together,” Prime Minister Najib said.

“And this is a very significant signal to others as well in other parts of the world. We see so much conflict on a daily basis like there is no end to it and people want to win everything, they want to take all. They do not want to compromise. They do not want to seek solutions.”

The Philippine government and MILF have shown others the way that peace can be achieved by sitting together and extending hands of friendship and by developing trust and confidence.

But developing trust and confidence cannot be done overnight, he said, noting that parties must have patience to build them block by block.

The Malaysian leader also said that his country is glad that it became part of the journey of the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) after it played an instrumental role in bridging the gap between both sides.

Prime Minister Najib also praised President Aquino for his personal leadership that eventually led to the signing of the final peace pact. PND (as)

President Aquino thanks Malaysian PM for continued support to peace efforts in Mindanao

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday thanked Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak for his country’s continued support to the peace initiatives between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“Your Excellency, it is especially during the most challenging times when brother nations should stand in support for one another. The Philippines saw this especially in the way that Malaysia, under your leadership, has supported our aspiration to build a just and lasting peace,” the President said in his message during the merienda cena he hosted for the Malaysian Prime Minister.

With the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro on Thursday, President Aquino said, peace is indeed within reach.

President Aquino invited Prime Minister Najib to attend the signing ceremony of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. The Prime Minister flew to Manila despite attending to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

Malaysia has been the facilitator of peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front since 2001, and has hosted the talks in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia also leads the International Monitoring Team in Mindanao.

“This evening, we are gathered in shared achievement and optimism. I believe I speak not only for my government, but for all Filipinos in recognizing the tremendous personal initiative, risk, and leadership displayed by Your Excellency, which helped us to secure an inclusive and peaceful future for our countrymen in the Bangsamoro,” the President said.

“I myself wish to extend my personal gratitude to you, as it has always been clear that you view Filipinos not as adversaries, but as brothers—as partners to whom you have readily offered assistance. There is no doubt in my mind that ours is a genuine brotherhood—one made more meaningful by our shared commitment to advance peace in the Bangsamoro, a peace that opens up the possibility for fostering greater stability, security, and prosperity for our respective peoples, and in particular for my countrymen in the Bangsamoro,” he added.

President Aquino thanked Prime Minister Najib for his presence at the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, saying the Philippines will never forget Malaysia’s contributions to peace efforts in Mindanao.

“Your Excellency’s presence here marks the culmination of a significant chapter in the peace process, and consequently, in our national narrative. In the Philippines, we have a concept called ‘utang na loob,’ which translates to ‘debt of gratitude,’” the President said.

“Rest assured: as we move towards the realization of our aspirations for Mindanao, we will never forget the significance of your contributions. With this comes our pledge to build on this success—one that is truly shared by Filipinos and all other peoples of goodwill across the world—and our promise to continue standing by the Malaysian people and strengthen the ties that bind our nations,” he added. PND (co)