Tuesday, 1 April 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Sunday, March 16, 2014

President Aquino decides not to allow Cudia to graduate pending an investigation

BAGUIO CITY: President Benigno S. Aquino III met with Philippine Military Academy cadet Jeff Aldrin Cudia and his family Saturday and decided not to allow him to graduate on Sunday pending a new investigation.

In a statement Saturday, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said he and the President met Cudia and his family and heard their appeals and requests.

"They had appeals, requests and also raised some issues. We made sure that they were given the opportunity to air their side. At the end of which, we recommended that they formalize their appeal, requests and other concerns in writing," Gazmin said in the statement.

"It was agreed that Cdt 1Cl Cudia will not graduate tomorrow, without prejudice to whatever will be the result of their new appeal, which is now elevated to the CSAFP whom the President directed to investigate."

This week, the Palace said it was studying the appeal of Cudia who will not graduate for allegedly violating the PMA's Honor Code.

In a statement, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the PMA Honor Code is essential in the character formation of future leaders and members of the Armed forces.

"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," he said.

The PMA had dismissed Cudia who is now on indefinite leave. 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. PND (as)

President Aquino leads 109th PMA Commencement Exercises

BAGUIO CITY) President Benigno S. Aquino III led the graduation rites Sunday of the Philippine Military Academy Siklab Diwa Class of 2014 encouraging the cadets to observe the academy's Honor Code even outside the learning institution when they start their respective assignments.

In his message here in Fort del Pilar, the President said he is confident that the PMA's Siklab Diwa Class will live up to the principles of adhering to their oath when they start to serve the people.

"Batid ko nga po: Dangal ang isa sa mga haligi ng istitusyong ito—ang dangal ng pagiging kawal, ng pagsusuot ng inyong mga uniporme, at ng pagsaludo sa ating bandila; ang dangal ng pagkakaroon ng isang Sandatahang Lakas, na talaga pong nabawi na ang paghanga at tiwala ng ating mga mamamayan," the President said.

"Kaya naman ang hamon sa ating lahat: Kung tungkulin nating pairalin ang Honor Code sa loob ng istitusyong ito, panindigan din sana natin sa labas ng PMA. Kung bawal magsinungaling sa klase at sa kapwa kadete, 'di ba't hindi rin dapat hayaan ang sinuman, kapwa man sundalo o karaniwang mamamayan, na linlangin at paikut-ikutin ang kapwa at ang Saligang Batas?"

As the cadets shunned cheating in class while inside the PMA, the President said he expects them to avoid corruption such as when procuring military weaponry. If a cheater is being punished in class in the PMA, he asked the graduating cadets to help the government go after those who abuse the trust of the people.

After spending four years inside the academy, the cadets will start to experience the harsh conditions outside when they step out of Fort del Pilar, the President said. There are challenges that lie ahead, the chief executive noted, adding that he hopes the cadets will apply the principles they learned in the academy not to give in to temptations in the real world.

"Bilang Commander-in-Chief, umaasa akong kung gaano ka-automatic sa inyo na ilapat ang teorya at taktikang inyong natutuhan sa tunay na bakbakan, ay siya rin sanang tatag ng inyong prinsipyong itakwil ang mali, at pumanig sa katuwiran," he said. PND (as)

President Aquino renews commitment for defense modernization, livelihood for soldiers

BAGUIO CITY: President Benigno S. Aquino III assured the members of the armed forces of government support so that they could have the tools and skills to perform their duties more effectively.

The President said in his message during the commencement exercises of the Philippine Military Academy here on Sunday that the government knows the needs of the soldiers and it is doing everything to improve their conditions.

"Ang hangad po natin: Bigyang lakas din kayo na paunlarin ang inyong sarili at inyong pamilya. Patuloy tayong naglalatag ng mga hakbang upang hindi kayo mapag-iwanan ng panahon sa kasanayan bilang sundalo at sa kakayahang itaguyod ang magandang kinabukasan," the President said in his message.

Among the major thrusts of his administration is to give the members of the Armed forces the weapons and tools they need to be more effective.

For instance, he said that the bidding for the purchase of two new twin-engine naval anti-submarine helicopters has started.

The military is also replacing Vietnam War-era rifles with the acquisition of 63,000 assault rifles for the soldiers in the next few months, he said.

The government is also ready to buy 12 lead-in fighter trainer aircraft from South Korea that will be used for the country's territorial defense operations.

Prior to this, the military has bought modern ships for sea patrols, eight Sokol combat utility helicopters, three Navy helicopters, and other new military vehicles, he added. He also said that the government targets to buy eight additional combat utility helicopters that will be used for search and rescue and disaster-relief missions before he steps down from the presidency.

Aside from modernizing the military, the administration has programs for soldiers such as housing and livelihood, the chief executive said. "Sa ngayon po, nasa 54,449 na abot-kayang tahanan na ang ating naipagawa para sa mga miyembro ng ating unipormadong hanay," he said.

Sa pagsasanib-puwersa naman ng Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of National Defense, umuusad na rin ang ating programang pangkabuhayan para sa ating mga aktibo at retiradong mga kawal," he added.

Under the government's livelihood program, areas in three military camps – Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Camp Kibaritan in Bukidnon, and Camp Peralta in Capiz will become plantations for bamboo, coffee, cacao and palm oil.

"Tunay pong sa pag-angat ng ekonomiya ng bansa, mas nabibigyan tayo ng pagkakataong suklian ang serbisyo ng ating mga kawal ng bayan," he said.

The President is in Baguio City Sunday to lead the 109th graduation rites of PMA's Siklab Diwa Class of 2014. PND (as)

RA 10635 a significant law for the Philippine maritime industry -- Palace

The recent signing of Republic Act 10635 by President Benigno S. Aquino III is a significant development for the Philippine maritime industry, which contributes over P225-billion to the country’s economy annually, MalacaƱang said on Sunday.

RA 10635 designated the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) as the country’s lone agency responsible for oversight in the implementation of the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), as amended, and other international agreements or covenants related thereto.

According to Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., who previously served at the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), this law would finally address the concerns of international maritime organizations, particularly those based in Europe that employ thousands of seafarers from the Philippines.

Coloma said we come from a situation where over 30 outfits are involved in the deployment of Filipino seafarers that the European community finds bothersome as it was not clear which agency holds the primary responsibility over them.

“Batay po sa aking naging karanasan sa Department of Transportation and Communications, naghahanap po sila ng linaw, naghahanap sila ng unified direction, kaya mahalaga itong isinagawang pagsasabatas ng single maritime administration sa ating bansa para po matanggal ‘yung ligalig, para po mapataas ang antas ng kalidad ng ating mga maritime schools na isa po sa isang major concern ng mga bansang kumukuha ng seafarers,” Coloma told Radyo ng Bayan.

“Napansin po ng mga auditors na ang ibang paaralan na mayroong kurso sa maritime administration ay kulang-kulang ang pasilidad at hindi po ito naaangkop sa standards na pandaigdigan. Kaya umaasa po tayo na magiging malaki ang epekto nitong single maritime administration sa pagpapalakas ng ating industriya na magtataguyod sa kapakanan ng mga mandaragat na Pilipino o Filipino seafarers,” he added.

Coloma said the Philippines holds a market share of not lower than 25 percent in the international merchant vessel industry, and contributes an annual share of over $5-billion or roughly P225-billion to our economy.

Signed by the President on March 13, RA 10635 gave MARINA the authority to “assume all powers and functions of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) relative to the issuance, validation, verification, correction, revocation or cancellation of certificates of competency, endorsement, proficiency and documentary evidence required of all seafarers and all such other matters pertaining to the implementation of the oversight in the implementation of the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers.” PND (hdc)

PH-US bases access deal to respect Philippine sovereignty, Palace says

MalacaƱang emphasized on Sunday that the Philippines' granting of access to United States' military shall respect the former’s sovereignty amid issues raised by different quarters on the possible near-conclusion of the enhanced defense cooperation between the two countries.

Citing the statements already made by representatives of the Philippine negotiating panel at the end of the sixth round of talks held last week in Washington, D.C., Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. assured that such will be the case once the agreement is finalized.

“The proposed agreement will allow the sharing of defined areas within certain AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) facilities with elements of the US military on a rotational basis within parameters consistent with the Philippine Constitution and laws.

This fresh round (of talks) has clearly shown the shared commitment of both parties to enhance cooperation in defense, security and related fields, including humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

At the instance of the Philippine panel, the United States panel agreed to the inclusion of provisions on environment and safety, and opportunities for potential Philippine suppliers of goods, products and services,” Coloma told Radyo ng Bayan.

Coloma said the aspects of humanitarian assistance and disaster response in this agreement are significant given the country’s experiences following the onslaught of super typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan) last year.

“Mahalaga po ‘yung aspeto ng humanitarian assistance and disaster response. Nakita po natin ito noong tayo ay tinamaan ng super typhoon ‘Yolanda’ at naging hayag po ang suporta ng Estados Unidos sa pamamagitan ng pagpapadala ng mga modernong kagamitan na malaki ang naiambag sa pagtugon sa emergency situation,” he said.

Quoting Defense Undersecretary Pio Batino, who heads the Philippines’ negotiating panel, Coloma said the agreement remains “guided by the principles of full respect for Philippine sovereignty, non-permanence of US troops, and no US basing in the Philippines, mutuality of benefits and respect for the Philippine Constitution, including the prohibition against nuclear weapons.”

One month before the expected visit of US President Barack Obama to the country, this latest development on the PH-US military cooperation deal was met with criticisms, especially from Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago who chairs the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Santiago, according to reports, said the deal has to be approved by the Senate first because “it cannot be classified as an executive agreement but as a treaty to which the Philippine Senate must give its concurrence.”

Coloma, meanwhile, said that while he respects the opinion of the senator, it is appropriate that she and other critics of the agreement wait for the completion of the deal first to have a better grasp of all the issues at hand.

“Ang aking panukala ay hintayin na lamang natin na maging pinal at matapos nang ganap (ang pag-uusap) dahil ongoing pa naman, hindi pa naman po completed, at hindi pa finalized. Hintayin po natin ang magiging final and complete form nitong kasunduang ito para po masuri ang mga isyung tinatalakay sa kasalukuyan,” he said. PND (hdc)

President Aquino hosts merienda cena for PMA new graduates

President Benigno S. Aquino III hosted a merienda cena for the fresh graduates of Philippine Military Academy Siklab Diwa Class of 2014 following the commencement exercises at Fort Gregorio H. Del Pilar in Baguio City on Sunday.

The lunch was held at The Mansion, the President's official residence in Baguio City, around 2 p.m.

The new graduates of Class Siklab Diwa were joined by their parents and relatives.

Also present were Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Armed Forces Chief Emmanuel Bautista, Army Chief Hernando Iriberri and other military officials.

The merienda cena is a traditional event hosted by the President for new graduates of the PMA.

It is an event where the President gets to interact and share some thoughts with the newly-commissioned officers. PND (jb)