Philippines to strive to improve civil, political freedoms, says Palace
The Philippines on Saturday vowed to improve its standing in the international community as far as the protection of civil and political rights is concerned.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said this after the US-based NGO Freedom House deemed the Philippines "partly free."
"(K)ailangan umakyat pa rin ang ating ranking pagdating sa civil and political rights. Siyempre demokrasya tayo at gusto natin everybody takes full advantage of the (rigths) accorded to them under our Constitution (We have to improve our standing when it comes to civil and political rights. Of course we are a democracy and we want everyone to take full advantage of their rights under our Constitution)," Valte said on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.
She also noted the Philippines stood out among its fellow Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members in political rights and civil liberties.
Freedom House's "Freedom in the World 2014" report tagged the Philippines as one of 59 countries deemed "partly free."
It gave the Philippines three points each in terms of political rights and civil liberties on a scale of 1 to 7, with one being most free and seven being least free. PND (jl)
Have an open mind, Palace urges critics on peace efforts with MILF
Malacañang on Saturday urged critics of the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to at least keep an open mind on the peace pact both sides are working on.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said there is nothing to lose if all Filipinos gave the peace process a chance to succeed.
"Siguro doon sa mga nagdududa, ang panawagan natin ay buksan ho natin ang ating puso’t isipan doon sa matagal ng pinag-uusapan, pinag-didiskusyunan ng parehong panel (To those still doubtful about the peace process, we ask you to open your hearts and minds to what the two panels have so far achieved)," Valte said on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.
Besides, she said everyone will have a chance to analyze later on how the annexes to the peace pact were crafted.
"Siguro wala pong mawawala sa atin at this point if we give peace a chance (There is nothing to lose if we give peace a chance)," she said.
In the meantime, Valte said the government is both confident and optimistic that there will be "good news" on the peace process while both panels are in Kuala Lumpur.
"Kahapon medyo guarded optimism ang nararamdaman nila. Kanina iba ang tono ng nakausap ko. Parang naramdaman na rin ang kasiyahan na malapit na magkaroon ng good news (On Friday, there was guarded optimism. But earlier today when I talked to some of those in the talks, you could feel they are optimistic there will be good news)," she said. PND (jl)
Palace: Government taking steps to prevent Phl from becoming transshipment point for drugs
Malacañang on Saturday reassured the public the government is taking steps to keep the Philippines from becoming a transshipment point for drugs.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said President Benigno Aquino III has instructed the concerned agencies to share information so they can work together more effectively.
"Ang huling naalala ko sinabi ng Pangulo is to share information. Hindi lang ito law enforcement agencies ang gumagalaw (The President ordered the agencies concerned to share information. This applies not just to law enforcement agencies)," she said on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.
She also noted there is now heightened cooperation among the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, National Bureau of Investigation, and the Philippine National Police.
What is important is heightened cooperation and sharing of information among these agencies, she said.
Valte also noted that with authorities getting better at thwarting drug laboratories, it is possible drug rings may have shifted to manufacturing the drugs abroad and using the Philippines as a transshipment point.
However, she added the sharing of information among law enforcement agencies has already netted results, including the interception Friday of some P1.3 billion in illegal drugs. PND (jl)
Sustain efforts to rehabilitate Yolanda-hit areas, President Aquino instructs concerned officials
President Benigno Aquino III has instructed Cabinet members involved in the rehabilitation of areas hit by super Typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan) last year to sustain their efforts despite criticisms from some sectors, Malacañang said Saturday.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the President issued the marching orders during a meeting with Cabinet members involved in the reconstruction.
"Isa yan sa na-emphasize din ng ating Pangulo, na kailangan tuloy-tuloy ang efforts natin (The President emphasized that efforts to reconstruct the affected areas should continue)," Valte said on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.
She said the President instructed his Cabinet members to study constructive criticisms about their efforts and incorporate them into their efforts.
"Should we receive any suggestions or constructive criticism, we take that in stride and incorporate that in our plans," she said.
The government is in the midst of reconstruction efforts in areas hit by Yolanda, which left at least 6,200 dead after battering the Visayas and Southern Luzon last November.
For its part, the international community had committed to help in the reconstruction efforts. PND (jl)
Palace: President Aquino appoints 2 DND officials, reappoints several others
Malacañang on Saturday announced the appointment of two new defense officials and the reappointment by President Benigno Aquino III of several others in various positions.
President Aquino appointed two acting directors of the Department of National Defense: Herbert Yambing and Lea Rosemary Liban.
The reappointed officials included those in the John Hay Management Corp. and the Poro Point Management Corp. under the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.
Appointed to serve until June 30, 2014 are:
Camp John Hay Management Corp. Board of Directors: Silvestre Afable Jr. (Chairman of the Board), Jamie Eloise Agbayani (President/CEO), Arnel Paciano Casanova, Reynaldo Agranzamendez, Catherine Mary Biazon, Emerito Manalo, Ceasar Oracion, Gloria Peralta, Teddy Esteban, Rigoroso Antonio, and Tengco Alexander Bangsoy, vice Felicito Payumo.
Poro Point Management Corp. Board of Directors: Ives Nisce (Chairman of the Board), Florante Gerdan (President/CEO), Jorge Banal, Elmer Cadano, Louis Funa-Ay, Claver Jr. Celia Guzman, Nicolas Tabora,
Mitchel Verzosa, and Vladimir Rodriguez, vice Amparo Aspiras. PND (jl)
Palace: Consultations needed for 6-hour workday proposal for teachers
A proposal to shorten the working hours of teachers to six a day may need consultations among stakeholders, Malacañang said Saturday.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said such a change in the schedules of teachers could impact on other sectors.
"Merong mga employers na bukas sa flexitime pero to shorten to six hours, that will require consultations with other stakeholders. Magkaka-impact yan sa kinikita ng ating mga kababayan (Some employers are open to flexitime. But to shorten the teachers' time to six hours a day, that will require consultations with other stakeholders because it may affect other sectors of the economy)," she said on state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.
For now, she said some employers had said they were open to a flexible schedule for workers, especially with the third stage of the Metro Manila Skyway project having started.
Some lawmakers earlier proposed to reduce the working hours for teachers from the standard eight hours a day to six.
A bill in the House of Representatives proposes a six-hour workday for public school teachers and exempts them from complying with the Civil Service's eight-hour requirement.
Lawmakers calling for the shortened work hours said this will allow the teachers more time to rest, and in turn "innovate and enhance classroom teaching." PND (jl)