Tuesday, 1 April 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

President Aquino administers oaths of office to new officers of the league of municipalities and local government units

President Benigno S. Aquino III administered the oaths of office to new officers of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) and the leagues of local government units in a ceremony held at the Manila Hotel on Tuesday.

First to take oath before the President was the 22 new officers of the LMP led by Leyte Mayor Leonardo "Sandy" Javier Jr.

The President then administered a mass oath-taking to the new officers of the leagues of local government units including the League of Provinces of the Philippines, League of Vice Governors of the Philippines, League of Cities of the Philippines, Vice Mayor's League of the Philippines, Philippine Councilor's League, Provincial Board Member League of the Philippines, National Movement of Young Legislator, and Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas.

Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, the national president of the League of Cities of the Philippines, led his group. Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno was also present leading the Vice Mayor's League of the Philippines.

Joining the President during the oath-taking ceremony were Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II. and Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Dinky Soliman was also present.

The Chief Executive then proceeded to the adjacent Fiesta Pavilion room where he attended LMP's general assembly this year.

The LMP conducts an annual assembly attended by over a thousand of mayors in the country. It is during the general assembly that the LMP Executive Committee defines its objectives where issues affecting the league are discussed. It also during this time that the President directly addresses the mayors of the country. PND (jb)

Malacanang salutes OFWs for record remittance

Malacanang expressed its thanks and saluted the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWS) for the increase in the remittances which he said grew seven percent compared to the same period last year.

In a press briefing, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said total remittances for 2013 reached P23-billion compared to P21.4-billion in 2012.

“We salute and thank our overseas Filipino workers for the nearly seven percent increase in remittances made in January 2014 compared to the same period last year. Total remittances for 2013 reached almost P23-billion for a 7.4-percent increase compared to P21.4-billion in 2012,” Coloma said.

“The government recognizes the importance of these remittances in bolstering the country’s foreign currency reserves, boosting consumer spending, and supporting overall economic growth,” he added.

He said that through the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency, the “government continues to promote programs that will create and increase employment opportunities for Filipino professionals and skilled workers.”

“These are in tandem with similar programs in country to create manufacturing-based and more highly remunerative jobs,” Coloma said.

Aside from this, Coloma said, the Department of Labor and Employment vigorously implements the P2-billion peso national reintegration program administered by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, which has already created 4,000 jobs for returning OFWs since the inception of this program.

“Through Land Bank of the Philippines, this program has granted and released total loans amounting to P632.5-million. Most of which were used to fund businesses on general merchandising, groceries, water purifying stations, auto supply, hardware, trucking, and ready-to-wear, as well as agriculture-based enterprises such as grains trading, piggery, poultry, agriculture supplies, post-harvest, bakery, fruits and vegetables farming, copra trading, and fisheries,” he added.

“We affirm President Aquino’s vision of ‘a government that creates jobs at home, so that working abroad will be a choice rather than a necessity.’ And when its citizens do choose to become overseas Filipino workers, their welfare and protection will still be the government’s priority,” Coloma said. PND (rck)

Aquino tells local government units: Good governance will be rewarded

President Benigno S. Aquino III challenged the local government units to perform better and to continue the exercise of good governance assuring them that such practices will be rewarded by the national government through the Department of Interior and Local Government's Seal of Good Local Governance.

Speaking before at least 1,500 local government officials during the general assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), the President underscored the importance of sustaining the practice of accountability and transparency in local government units, which play a vital role in economic growth and poverty alleviation.

“Kayo ang nasa lokal na pamahalaan; kayo ang may malalim na pag-unawa sa mga pangangailangan ng inyong kababayan; kayo ang nasa magandang posisyon para gumawa ng mga kongkretong hakbang upang tugunan ang mga ito,” he said.

“Ang gusto ko pong bigyan ng diin: Ang Performance Challenge Fund ay para sa lahat ng gustong tuparin ang kanilang pangako bilang lingkod bayan. Hindi po kailangan ng palakasan at papogian. Hindi ninyo kailangang sumipsip para mabigyan ng Performance Challenge Fund,” he said referring to the incentive given to LGUs that pass the seal of good governance.

The President shared that last year, 719 LGUs were given Performance Challenge Funds with a total incentive of P1 billion.

President Aquino stressed that incentives were not only given to allies but to all LGUs that will meet the requirements of good housekeeping.

“Kahit saang partido pa kayo nanggaling, basta nagpapakitang-gilas kayo sa serbisyo at tapat na sumusunod sa mga patakaran, mabibigyan kayo ng kaukulang pondo at insentibo upang maiangat pa ang pamumuhay ng inyong mga nasasakupan,” he said.

He likewise reported that a total of 1,372 LGUs or close to 84 percent of the total number of LGUs, have complied with the good housekeeping requirements.

He challenged the remaining 20 percent to keep up and join in the government’s transformation.

“Sa bawat isa po sa ating mga LGU: Sana naman po ay hindi lang minimum ang ating habulin; sa halip, talaga pong ibuhos natin ang lahat ng ating makakaya, upang pagharap natin sa kanya-kaniyang mga salamin ay masabi nating, ‘Tinupad ko ang aking sinumpaang tungkulin; naging kabahagi ako ng pagbabago; tapat akong naglingkod sa kapwa ko Pilipino’” he said.

This year’s LMP general assembly was attended by 1,228 mayors coming from different provinces and cities in the country. PND (jb)

Philippines’s Ayungin presence, lawful, says Palace official

Malacanang said the country’s presence in the Ayungin Shoal is lawful despite China’s pronouncements that the Philippines is intruding in its jurisdiction in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).

It was reported that China warned the Philippines to abandon its claims in the Ayungin Shoal, with its foreign ministry spokesperson saying they are on high alert for the Philippines possibly taking more proactive acts in the South China Sea.

As a response, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr cited a Department of Foreign Affairs statement on March 14 regarding the issue.

“The BRP Sierra Madre, a commissioned Philippine naval vessel, was placed in Ayungin Shoal in 1999 to serve as a permanent Philippine government installation in response to China's illegal occupation of Mischief Reef in 1995. This was prior to the signing of the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in 2002,” Coloma told reporters in a press briefing citing DFA’s statement.

He said the Philippines reiterates that Ayungin Shoal is part of its continental shelf over which the country has sovereign rights and jurisdiction.

“Yan po ang malinaw na posisyon ng ating pamahalaan. Lahat naman po ng pagkilos natin diyan ay ayon sa international law at in accordance with our policy of pursuing only peaceful and diplomatic means to resolve the disputes on territorial claims.”

China warned the Philippines against provocations in the West Philippine Sea after two Filipino civilian vessels were expelled from the Ayungin Shoal for allegedly bringing in construction materials.

The DFA protested the expulsion of the two Filipino civilian vessels in Ayungin Shoal, but China rejected the protest.

Filipino marines shelter in a rusted World War II era ship, the BRP Sierra Madre,that was intentionally grounded on Ayungin in 1999 in response to China’s occupation of Mischief Reef in 1995.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea through its nine-dash line that included parts of the Philippines 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

Tired of fruitless attempts to settle the dispute diplomatically, the Philippines has filed for an arbitration case against China before the United Nations International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS). China has refused to take part in the proceedings. PND (as)

Coloma says he supports COA’s move to go after officials with unliquidated cash advances

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said he supports the Commission on Audit’s move to go after government officials and employees who have unliquidated cash advances.

The COA said there is over P5 billion in unliquidated cash advances recorded by the auditing body as of end-2011 and could cover periods that go as far back as 20 to 40 years.

“Ang aking nabatid sa kanyang pahayag ay kinakailangang maging accountable o pananagutin ang mga opisyal o empleyado ng pamahalaan na responsable para doon sa mga cash advances na kinuha nila,” Coloma said with regards to the statement of COA chief Grace Pulido-Tan.

“Ang aking batid sa kasalukuyan—at ito ay pinapatupad ko mismo dito sa aking tanggapan—‘yung patakaran na no new cash advance unless an existing cash advance has been fully liquidated,” he added.

His office is doing the practice to ensure that funds being released by his office does not accumulate over time without liquidation.

Tan said public money that remains unaccounted for several years could be considered malversed funds and officials who received the money could be charged.

“Kaya ang sinisimulan po ng Commission on Audit ngayon ay ‘yung proseso ng pagpapanagot. A process of accountability has been set into motion by the COA,” Coloma said. PND (as)

President Aquino to grace 2014 Pinoy Music Summit on Wednesday

President Benigno S. Aquino III will grace this year’s Pinoy Music Summit to be held March 19, Wednesday at the Diosdado Macapagal Hall, Landbank Plaza Building, Malate, Manila in support of the Philippine music industry.

With the theme “Basta Pinoy, Push Mo ‘Yan!” this year’s conference aims to chart the state of the Philippine music industry and develop a program involving various stakeholders towards strengthening and promoting OPM (original Pinoy music) as an expression of culture and identity, as well as making it an economic driver.

President Aquino’s attendance to the event comes as no surprise to many since he is a self-confessed audiophile whose preferences on music range from jazz, pop, classic, blues, and OPM.

The event is organized by the Filipino Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, Inc. (FILSCAP), along with the Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM), Philippine Association of Recording Industry (PARI), Asosasyon ng Musikong Pilipino Foundation, Inc. (AMP), Music Copyright Administrators of the Philippines (MCAP), and PhilPop Music Fest Foundation.

Filipino music has been handicapped by music piracy, technological advancement, lack of ingenuity among local artists, and foreign competition that sales of the Philippine recording industry went on a constant decline for almost a decade.

Cultural critic Don Jaucian even wrote in his August 25, 2012 article published by the Philippine Star that OPM has been “thrown into some bargain bin, upstaged by Korean girl bands, cover albums, and bossa nova,” thus challenging both local artists and their listeners to move towards innovation and creation of new works, instead of just resorting to old repackaged tunes.

This year’s Pinoy Music Summit hopes to achieve just that by gathering musicians, record labels, the government sector, media, and various representatives of the music consumer groups in a single event.

“We want to bring in all the stakeholders, record industry associations, networks, the singers, the academe and the government, and challenge them to do something about the current situation of the music industry,” FILSCAP president and acting conference director Noel Cabangon said. PND (hdc)

President Aquino underscores role of LGUs in attaining inclusive growth

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Tuesday emphasized the importance of the role of local government units in attaining inclusive growth in the country.

In his speech at the annual general assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), President Aquino urged local government officials to establish a friendly and easy business environment for potential foreign investors citing his recent trips in Japan and Korea.

“Pagdating ho ba nitong mga negosyanteng tutulong sa atin magbigay ng mga trabaho para talagang maging inclusive growth tayo. Sana po ay harapin natin silang lahat sa espiritu ng gabayan at pagtutulungan. ‘Yung tutulong sa atin, tulungan na natin, huwag na natin pahirapan,” he said.

President Aquino visited Japan and Korea last year bringing home hundred billion pesos worth of investment pledges.

For more than three years, the Aquino administration has been implementing reforms that will enhance the business environment in the country.

Last year, the Philippines ranked 108th out of 189 nations in the World Bank Group's Ease of Doing Business report. This was 30 notches up from 138th in 2012.

The President said inclusive growth could only be attained through the concerted efforts between the national and local government, which starts in making the country more friendlier to local and foreign investors.

“Para mangyari po ito, siyempre, kayong mga punong-lungsod, kayo pong mga gobernador, pati na rin ang mga hepe ng barangay ay malaking bahagi para maging kaganapan ‘yan at bawat isang dumating ay talaga naman pong malaki ang maitutulong tungo sa inclusive growth,” he said.

The President addressed some 1,228 mayors of the LMP and other local government officials coming from various provinces during the general assemblyheld at Manila Hotel. PND (jb)