Friday, 9 May 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, May 6, 2014

President Aquino appoints former Senator Francis Pangilinan as Presidential Assistant for Food Security

President Benigno S. Aquino III has appointed former Senator Francis Pangilinan as Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (PAFSAM).

The President appointed Pangilinan on May 5 with the signing of Memorandum Order No. 70, which also defined the functions of the PAFSAM.

The President also transferred to the Office of the President (OP) four agencies under the Department of Agriculture (DA): the National Food Authority (NFA), National Irrigation Authority (NIA), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), and Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA), through Executive Order No. 175, which he also signed on May 5.

According to the memorandum, aside from overseeing the four agencies previously attached to the DA, Secretary Pangilinan is tasked with coordinating and monitoring the policies, programs, projects and activities relating to the National Convergence Initiative (NCI), in conjunction with its national steering committee and technical working groups.

In line with the Philippine Development Plan for 2011-2016, following are among the salient objectives of the NCI as embodied in its charter: “rationalizing land use policies and strengthening the system of land property rights; promoting sustainable agriculture and preserving the land resource base; enhancing the investment and opportunity climate for agribusiness; promoting sustainable upland development and forest management; and initiating climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.”

The order directs all other government agencies and corporations “to render full assistance and cooperation” to the PAFSAM. PND (rck)

Secretary Pangilinan says he was appointed to help Agriculture Secretary Alcala

Newly appointed Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (PAFSAM) Secretary Francis Pangilinan said Tuesday his appointment is aimed at helping Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala in addressing the numerous problems in the agricultural sector.

Secretary Alcala remains to be the primary person responsible for food and agriculture, Pangilinan noted. “Ako ay pumapasok lamang bilang taga-suporta, dagdag ng suporta at tulong sa ilang mga problema ng ahensya, problema ng sector,” he said.

He said his appointment is to fast-track agricultural modernization during the last two years of the Aquino administration.

“So [itong] pagpasok po natin ay upang suportahan at tulungan ang ating Kalihim para ang mga layunin ng ating administrasyon at ng ating Pangulo ay matugunan sa nalalabing dalawang taon,” Pangilinan said.

“Maliwanag na dalawang taon na lamang, ano, at maliwanag na marami pang mga problema na kinakailangang lutasin. Kung kaya’t mahalaga na magtulungan upang ang mga programang hindi pa naipapatupad ay maaari nating bigyang diin,” he added. PND (rck)

Members of Japan-Philippines Parliamentary Friendship League call on President Aquino

President Benigno S. Aquino III met with members of the Japan-Philippines Parliamentary Friendship League (JPPFL) during a courtesy call in Malacanang on Tuesday.

Present during the courtesy call held at Malacanang’s Music Room were JPPFL Chairman Kenji Kosaka, Vice Chairman Takeshi Maeda, Chief Secretary Yukio Ubukata, and Secretary General Taku Otsuka.

On the Philippines side, present were Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Senate President Franklin Drilon, Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Toshinao Urabe, and Director General of International Relations and Senate Protocol Antonio de Guzman, Jr.

Drilon, President of the Philippines-Japan Parliamentarians Association, met with the members of JPPFL on Monday to discuss the proposal to grant Filipinos a visa-free entry to Japan.

The lawmaker said the proposal is still being studied and reviewed but noted that it may be decided within the year.

Both parties also discussed the immigration policies for Filipino caregivers to Japan, which has a growing ageing population.

During the meeting, Kenji Kosaka also turned over 20 emergency vehicles to the Philippines for areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda last year. PND (jb)

President Aquino confers Order of Sikatuna to outgoing envoy of Spain

President Benigno S. Aquino III conferred the Order of Sikatuna with the rank of Grand Cross, Gold Distinction to outgoing Spanish Ambassador Jorge Domecq in a simple farewell ceremony at Malacanang’s Music Room on Tuesday.

President Aquino recognized Domecq’s important contribution in further strengthening and deepening the bilateral relations between the Philippines and Spain since he assumed office in 2011.

The President also commended the envoy’s outstanding and dedicated service in the field of international relations and for having been an exceptionally worthy and competent representative of his government in the country.

He likewise praised Domecq for his steadfast efforts in promoting partnerships between the Philippines’ and Spain’s public and private educational institutions, including the enhancement and propagation of the Spanish language.

The President acknowledged the ambassador’s efforts in encouraging Spain to support Philippine development goals through Spain’s official development assistance in the important sectors of good governance, education, social development, and disaster risk management and emergency response.

Domecq was cited for supporting Philippine initiatives in the domestic, regional and multilateral arena, especially in the areas of human rights, the rights of women and the Mindanao peace process.

Lastly, President Aquino recognized the envoy’s consistent efforts in bringing the people of Spain closer to the people of the Philippines through enhanced collaboration between Filipino cultural institutions and the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports and the Instituto Cervantes.

Also present during the event were Domecq’s wife Rosa Rufino de Domecq, two other officials of Spain, and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario. PND (jb)

Pangilinan is President Aquino’s point man for National Convergence Initiative: Palace

Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (PAFSAM) Secretary Francis Pangilinan has been tasked to coordinate the Aquino administration’s programs under its National Convergence Initiative (NCI) in line with the six-year Philippine Development Plan (PDP).

Malacañang disclosed this on Tuesday, following President Benigno S. Aquino III’s issuance of Executive Order No. 175, which transferred four agencies of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to the Office of the President, and Memorandum Order No. 70, which detailed Pangilinan’s functions.

The memorandum decreed that Pangilinan would have the oversight on the operations of the National Food Authority (NFA), National Irrigation Authority (NIA), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), and Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA).

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. clarified though that these decisions by the President do not in any way reduce Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala’s level of authority amid various allegations raised against him during the past few months.

“The President wants the four agencies to devote intensified and focused efforts in attaining PDP goals. Secretary Alcala is expected to continue pursuing the full attainment of DA objectives with undiminished vigor,” Coloma told reporters in a text message.

“Secretary Pangilinan's appointment is an affirmative decision, and not in reaction to issues that have been raised by some quarters concerning Secretary Alcala, who continues to enjoy the President's trust and confidence,” he added.

Coloma said Pangilinan would be the President's point person in giving impetus to the NCI to ensure long-term food security and sustainable, long-term agricultural development.

The NCI’s objectives are to rationalize land use policies and strengthen the system of land property rights; promote sustainable agriculture and preserve the land resource base; enhance the investment and opportunity climate for agribusiness; promote sustainable upland development and forest management; and initiate climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.

According to the President’s order, the DA, NFA, NIA, PCA, FPA, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and all other government agencies and corporations are “directed to render full assistance and cooperation” to the PAFSAM, Coloma noted. PND (hdc)

Pangilinan takes oath as Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization

Former Senator Francisco Pangilinan took his oath of office as Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization before President Benigno S. Aquino III in Malacanang on Tuesday.

Pangilinan was appointed Presidential Assistant through Memorandum No. 70, which was signed by President Aquino on May 5. Pangilinan’s position has a Cabinet rank.

In a press briefing after his oath-taking, Secretary Pangilinan said his appointment gives him authority to oversee four agencies transferred from the Department of Agriculture to the Office of the President: the National Food Authority (NFA), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), and Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA).

As overseer in the agriculture sector, Pangilinan said his priorities include ensuring enough supply of rice at affordable prices, as well as rice importation and storage. He said he will find ways to address the NFA’s P170-billion debt.

Regarding the coconut industry, Pangilinan said he will look into the coco levy issue to determine possible government intervention in connection with the coco levy fund that has not been returned to the farmers.

There is also the problem of infestation in the coconut industry which his office will try to solve, he added.

It is high time we look into the living conditions of Filipino coconut farmers, who remain poor despite the huge potential of the country’s coconut industry in the international market, he said.

He maintained that the country continues to be the leader in terms of world coconut exports but that it might lose ground to other nations if the government ignores the concerns of the coconut industry.

Pangilinan also said he will study the problems in the country’s irrigation system to help increase the yield of Filipino farmers.

“Very public ‘yung mga issue ng ating Pangulo sa NIA, so we will have to address that too in the last two years. Sa huling dalawang taon ng administrasyon ng ating Pangulo, ito ang ilan sa mga gusto niyang malutas natin,” he said.

On the possible effects of the El Niño phenomenon, Pangilinan said he wants an immediate assessment on the effects of the weather disturbance on the country’s agricultural sector to be able to tackle it effectively. PND (as)

New Presidential Assistant for Food Security says he will focus on farmers and fishermen

Newly appointed Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Secretary Francis Pangilinan on Tuesday emphasized the need to look after the welfare of the country’s farmers and fishermen, who he said are the “poorest of the poor”.

“Dahil ang ating designation is food security secretary, siguro kailangan ko ring bigyang diin na para magkaroon ng food security, ang una nating dapat ma-secure ay ‘yung ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda,” Secretary Pangilinan said during a press briefing shortly after he was sworn into office by President Benigno S. Aquino III.

He noted that the agricultural industry only grew by one percent last year.

“The poorest of the poor are in the agriculture sector. And therefore, kung gusto nating pagtuunan itong inclusive growth ng ating administrasyon at ng gobyerno, kailangang tugunan natin ang problema ng pagsasaka at pangingisda,” said the former Senator.

He said that to address the increase in rice prices, his office must look into storage and importation and the reported P170-billion debt of the National Food Authority (NFA).

Pangilinan also mentioned the need to settle the controversies surrounding the decades-old issue on the misuse of the coco levy fund that is one of the concerns of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).

“The Coco Levy fund, which rightfully belongs to our farmers, will be properly utilized so that it will benefit directly our coconut farmers and their families,” said Pangilinan, who once headed the Senate Committee on Agriculture.

As Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization, Pangilinan has an oversight function over the PCA, NFA, National Irrigation Administration, and Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority.

“Yung doktor, kailangan natin minsan sa isang panahon; yung abogado kailangan natin minsan sa isang pahahon; bumbero, ganoon din. Pero ang magsasaka at mangingisda, kailangan natin araw-araw, tatlong beses sa isang araw,” Pangilinan said, hence the need to clean up the four agencies he has been tasked to oversee. PND (ag)

New Presidential Assistant for Food Security says he will address rice smuggling

Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francisco Pangilinan said Tuesday he will not allow smugglers to control the country’s supply of rice and dictate its price in the market.

Secretary Pangilinan made the statement shortly after President Benigno S. Aquino III installed him into office, giving him authority to oversee the National Food Authority (NFA) and three other agencies that were formerly under the Department of Agriculture.

He said that in the past, rice smugglers used farmer groups and rice traders to import rice illegally.

"Hindi tayo papayag na sila ay mangingibabaw dito sa sektor ng bigas at pag-import ng bigas," said the former Senator who once chaired the Senate Committee on Agriculture and spearheaded investigations in anomalous transactions in the agricultural sector.

Asked if his overall goal is to dismantle rice cartels in the country, Pangilinan said his main objective is to ensure a more transparent and organized way of importing rice.

"Ang sa atin ay hindi natin sila papayagang diktahan ang rice trade sa ating bansa. Whether mabuwag sila o hindi, hindi ko masasabi, pero ang ating layunin ay magkaroon ng mas malinis na proseso ng pag-import ng bigas," he said.

The government recognizes the problem of smuggling in the country, he said, noting that the President has already carried out reform measures in the Bureau of Customs to prevent smuggling, not only of rice but other products as well.

The newly appointed official further said that he will try to address the rice farmers’ lack of capital, which hampers their productivity and income.

The absence of financial sources, such as banks and cooperatives, prevents farmers from having enough money to support their livelihood, he said.

Pangilinan said he will coordinate with Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to help farmers access financial support, such as loans and insurance. PND (as)

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, May 5, 2014

Palace calls for Bayanihan to counter adverse effects of El Niño

Malacanang has called on the people to practice “bayanihan” to counter the adverse effects of the El Nino weather phenomenon that is expected to hit the country in June.

“Pairalin natin iyong diwa ng bayanihan. Ang gagawin po natin sa ating kani-kaniyang sambahayan at komunidad ay malaki ang maiaambag sa pambansang pagkilos,” Presidential Communication Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said, Monday, asking the public to heed government calls for power and water conservation.

The El Nino is an anomalous phenomenon caused by the warming of ocean water temperatures, affecting the countries surrounding the Pacific Ocean. It is said to bring droughts and trigger abnormal weather patterns.

Over the weekend, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned that the El Nino might affect the country starting next month and could last nine months.

Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Mario Montejo said the phenomenon could result in reduced rainfall.

The department also warned that water levels in Angat Dam, which supplies 90 percent of the water in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces, are already at a critical level.

Coloma said an inter-government agency cooperation is being implemented to counter the effects of El Nino.

He said the government agencies involved include the Department of Agriculture (DA), PAGASA-DOST, Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Trade and Investment (DTI), Energy Regulatory Board (ERB) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).

Coloma said the DA is working closely with the PAGASA-DOST to intensify cloud-seeding operations to induce rain in major watersheds and drought-affected farming communities.

The DA will provide shallow tube wells and drought-tolerant crop varieties to farmers in areas that will be affected by the dry spell.

Coloma said the department has also increased its investments on the establishment of small water-impounding facilities, as well as the repair of existing irrigation systems and construction of new ones.

Meanwhile, the DTI will monitor the prices of basic commodities to prevent any unwarranted price hikes, while the ERB will watch for any power rate increase, he said, adding that the DOE will prevent power plants from going offline unexpectedly to avert power interruptions.

“Kasama na rin po ang mga kawani at opisyal ng pamahalaan na makikiisa sa wasto at matipid na paggamit ng tubig at ng kuryente, dahil ito ay maaaring maapektuhan ng inaasahang pagpasok ng El Niño phenomenon,” said Coloma. PND (ag)

Draft of Bangsamoro Basic Law now with Presidential Legal Counsel, says Palace official

The draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law is with the Office of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, which is reviewing it before presenting it to President Benigno S. Aquino III, Presidential Communication Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., said Monday.

“The draft Bangsamoro Basic Law prepared by the Bangsamoro Transition Committee is currently being reviewed by the legal team of the Office of the President and by the Office of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel to determine propriety for inclusion in the legislative agenda of the President,” Coloma said during a press briefing.

“This review ensures meticulous and circumspect evaluation that each provision of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law conforms to the Constitution and the signed agreements,” he added.

He said there is a sense of urgency for the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law to be enacted into a law and submitting it to the House of Representatives is paramount.

“Binanggit na rin ito ng Pangulo na matatapos iyong pagsasabatas nito sa loob nitong taong ito para maidaos din iyong plebisito for referendum sa unang bahagi ng 2015, dahil kinakailangang magkaroon din ng transition na kapag naganap na ang pag-ratipika nito, magkakaroon ng Bangsamoro Transition Commission na papalit sa ARMM (Autonomous Region on Muslim Mindanao) na iphe-phase out for approximately one year of last period leading up to the 2016 elections,” Coloma explained.

Both Houses of Congress resumed sessions on Monday. PND (ag)

It is up to ERB to look into reports of Meralco’s dividend-sharing, Palace says

Malacanang said Monday it is leaving it to the Energy Regulatory Board (ERB) to look into reports that the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) has distributed P7.3 billion worth of dividends to its shareholders.

“Part of the ERC’s regulatory functions is to determine the propriety of expenses incurred by distribution utilities such as Meralco,” Presidential Communication Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., said during a press briefing.

“ERC is also tasked to determine the reasonability of power rates and power rate adjustments,” Coloma added.

He noted that the government is determined to protect the citizen’s welfare and ensure that power rates are “fully justified and will not unduly burden our people.”

The reported dividend-sharing comes at a time when Meralco announced plans to impose higher electricity rates.

According to news reports, Meralco is seeking to increase power rates this month by less than P1 to as much as P1.72 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). PND (ag)

Former Senator Francis Pangilinan joins Cabinet, scheduled to take oath before President Aquino tomorrow

President Benigno S. Aquino III appointed on Monday former Senator Francis Pangilinan as Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization, Malacañang said.
Pangilinan’s position has a Cabinet rank and he is scheduled to take an oath of office before the President at the Palace Music Room Tuesday afternoon.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. made the announcement in confirmation of reports that resurfaced over the weekend regarding the matter.

Coloma said Pangilinan’s position is similar to that of former Senator now Presidential Adviser on Rehabilitation and Recovery Panfilo Lacson, “hence, he will also hold the title of Secretary.”

President Aquino since last year had been open about his plans to have Pangilinan in the Cabinet following his 12-year stint at the Senate of the Philippines.

“Kiko in particular has several aspects of the agricultural sector that he wants to concentrate on. He is a partymate. He has already discussed his ideas with Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and we will try to maximize his involvement to the benefit of the agricultural sector,” President Aquino told reporters in a March 2013 interview. PND (hdc)

PIA News Dispatch - Sunday, May 4, 2014

Malacanang joins DOST and PAGASA in calling for conservative use of water

Malacanang has joined the Department of Science and Technology and the Philippine Atmospheri Geophysical Services Adminsitration in calling for the conservative use of water, as the water levels in dams supplying potable water to Metro Manila has reached critical levels due to the scorching heat of summer.

Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. made the call in a press briefing broadcast over government radio dzRB Radyo ng Bayan as he noted the warning of the DOST and PAGASA over the occurrence of El Nino next month.

“Batay sa pag-aaral ng PAGASA, posibleng magsimula na ang panahon ng El Niño sa darating na buwan ng Hunyo. Kapag ito ay naganap, maaari itong tumagal ng hanggang siyam na buwan o hanggang unang bahagi ng 2015,” Coloma said.

“Ayon kay Kalihim Mario Montejo ng DOST, maaaring mag-resulta sa mas kaunting pag-ulan kaya’t magpapahayag ang PAGASA ng buwanang ulat hinggil sa pag-ulan sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng bansa,” he added.

El Niño is a weather phenomenon that could affect the normal rainfall pattern in the country generally resulting in reduced rainfall. PAGASA will be furnishing a monthly rainfall outlook for six months for the different parts of the country. El Niño causes the behavior of tropical cyclones to become erratic, affecting its tracks and intensity. The tropical cyclone tracks are expected to shift northward and its intensity could become stronger. Concerned agencies are advised to take precautionary measures to mitigate the potential impact of this phenomenon.

“Kaisa po kami sa panawagan ng DOST at PAGASA sa kahalagahan ng wasto at matipid na paggamit ng tubig,” Coloma said.

“Ayon sa kanilang pinakahuling ulat, nasa kritikal na antas ang tubig sa Angat Dam na siyang pinanggagalingan ng hanggang 90 porsyento ng tubig sa Metro Manila at mga kalapit na lalawigan. Ginagamit din ang tubig mula sa Angat Dam para sa irigasyon at elektrisidad,” he added.

He said President Aquino has tasked members of his Cabinet to undertake measures to address the effects of the El Nino phenomeno.

“Ang climate change mitigation and adaptation ay isa sa mga prayoridad na programa sa Philippine Development Plan,” Coloma said. PND (rck)

Malacanang sends greetings to Palarong Pambansa delegates

Malacanang sent its greetings to the delegates of the 2014 Palarong Pambansa in Santa Cruz, Laguna that will commenced on Monday (May 5).

“Bumabati kami sa lahat ng kabataang atleta na lalahok sa 2014 Palarong Pambansa na magsisimula Lunes sa lalawigan ng Laguna,” Presidential Communication Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said Sunday.

“Kaisa kami ng sambayanan sa pag-asang ang palaro sa taong ito ay magsisilbing tagapagtaguyod sa pagpapahalaga sa displina, pagkilos bilang iisang pangkat o teamwork, pagiging patas at makatwiran, pagkakaisa at paggalang sa kapwa,” Coloma added.

Palarong Pambansa is an scholastic athletic competition that serves as a means to promote Physical Education and Sports as an integral part of the Basic Education Curriculum.

There are an estimated 11,200 student-athletes from 17 regions around the country that will participate in the Palarong Pambansa. PND (ag)

Palace assures food security amid threat of El Niño

Malacanang assured Sunday that the there are enough measures to ensure food security in the country amid the threat of a long El Nino effect.

Presidential Communication Operations Office Secretary Heminio Coloma, Jr., said Sunday that food security is one of the priorities of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

“Kaya kapag tinunghayan po natin ang kanilang budget sa General Appropriations Act of 2015, makikita po nating nakahanay doon ang mga kongkretong programa sa pagtiyak na magkakaroon tayo ng sapat na pagkain,” said Coloma in a press briefing aired Sunday over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

He said that the Department of Agriculture considered and anticipated the natural calamities that may hit the country.

“Isa na po diyan ‘yung pag-diversify ng ating mga supply kung sakaling tamaan ng bagyo o kalamidad ang isang lugar na hindi naman mawa-wipe out o mawawala ang ating inaasahang panggagalingan ng pagkain sapagkat nakapaghanda naman po sa pamamagitan ng pagtatanim sa iba’t ibang lugar ng ating bansa,” Coloma explained.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration – Department of Science and Technology (PAGASA-DOST) warned that the country may feel the effect of El Nino by June 2014 and will last until the first quarter of next year.

The El Nino phenomenon is an anomalous warming of the ocean water temperature that affects the countries surrounding the Pacific Ocean, this brings drought and trigger abnormal weather patterns. PND (ag)

PIA News Dispatch - Saturday, May 3, 2014

Government prepared to address effects of El Nino, says Coloma

Malacanang said the government has contingency measures to address El Nino phenomenon that may hit the country this year, a Palace official said on Saturday.

In an interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the national government has a contingency plan in place to address the changing climate which is the current reality.

For instance, he said that one of the pillars of the Philippine Development Plan is climate change adaptation and mitigation and this includes government’s response on El Nino and La Nina, he said.

The Aquino government acknowledges that climate change is now a global reality and nations must prepare for it, the Palace official said.

“Kaya po noon pang Enero, noong nag-meeting ang Gabinete, nagpahayag ang Pangulo na kinakailangang paghandaan ang ano mang senaryo na dadating sa atin kung ito man ay El Niño o La Niña,” he said.

“Pansinin natin na galing tayo sa panahon ng kalamidad, na karamihan ay mga malalakas na bagyo at malawakang pagbaha, at maging storm surge ang ating naranasan.”

Now that the weather bureau sees the possibility of El Nino hitting the country, Coloma said the government is doing everything to mitigate its effect especially in the agriculture sector.

Such mitigation measure is incorporated in different programs of concerned agencies and the national budget as well has an allocation for addressing the impacts of climate change, which is in line with priorities of the Philippine Development Plan, he said.

“Mayroon pong bahagi doon, ‘yung part three, na patungkol lang mismo sa climate change mitigation and adaptation, at nakalatag po diyan lahat ng mga programa ng lahat ng kagawaran at national government agencies na patungkol sa bagay na ‘yan,” Coloma said.

“Kaya makatitiyak po tayo na mayroon na pong mga nakalatag na programa na ang iba doon ay naumpisahan nang ipatupad sapagkat bahagi ito ng programa de gobyerno ng Aquino administration.” PND (as)

Aquino government remains determined in solving media killings, says Coloma

The Aquino government has not wavered in going after those behind media killings to give justice to the victims and their families, a Malacanang official said.

It was reported that in the latest Global Impunity Index released last month by the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Philippines belongs to three nations with a continuing culture of impunity with regards to attacks on media personalities.

But in a radio interview on Saturday, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said that one reason for the high number of unsolved media killings is the big number of journalists killed in the Maguindanao massacre in 2009.

Coloma told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan that the Global Impunity Index based its ranking from cases on media killings that remain unsolved.

“At madali naman pong matuntun kung bakit po mataas ‘yung bilang ng hindi pa naso-solve na krimen na kinasangkutan ng mga mamahayag sa ating bansa dahil doon lamang po sa iisang kaso ng Maguindanao massacre na naganap noong November 2009, ay mahigit limampu na kaagad pong katao ‘yung pinag-uusapan na nagbuwis po ng buhay dahil sa tinatawag na impunity laban sa mga mamamahayag,” Coloma explained.

While the cases against the perpetrators of the Maguindanao massacre is ongoing, Coloma acknowledged the big challenge that lies ahead. But he said the good thing is that the government remains determined to serve justice to the victims and their families.

More than 100 people have so far been implicated in the case, which has been ongoing for around three years and there is still no resolution, according to Coloma.

“Ganoon pa man, determinado naman po ang ating pamahalaan na tukuyin ang mga kasong ito at patuloy pa ring hinahanapan ng solusyon at ng katarungan,” he said assuring the public about the government’s continuing efforts.

In the last Labor Day dialogue with the labor sector of President Aquino, extra judicial killings was tackled, and Coloma said that aside from going after the perpetrators, the administration is also pushing for reforms in the country’s justice system to speed up litigation of cases.

Aside from the cases in connection to killing of journalists, the government is also paying extra attention to solve the murders of labor leaders in the country. PND (as)

Palace hopes lawmakers address PNR concerns

The Palace said it hopes lawmakers will act immediately to enact a law that will give a new life to the Philippine National Railways (PNR) as its charter expires soon.

It is feared that with the lack of a new charter, the services of the PNR may be disrupted.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said they know Congress is scheduled to discuss the issue so that the PNR could have a new charter.

“Batid po natin ay nakatakda namang talakayin ito ng ating Kongreso sapagkat katulad ng nabanggit ninyo ay patapos na ang kasalukuyang corporate life ng PNR, at kinakailangang magkaroon ng panibagong buhay ito,” he told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday.

The Palace official acknowledged the contribution of the PNR to the country, especially to the national economy. The PNR has been operating for many decades, providing a fundamental transportation service to Filipinos from Ilocos to the Bicol region, he said.

The railway service has also carried out an extensive modernization program in recent months, acquiring new coaches and improving its line. As a result, its ridership increased, Coloma said.

“Ang akin pong tingin diyan, hindi naman po pababayaan ng ating mga mambabatas at ng ating mga pambansang lider na maputol ang serbisyo ng Philippine National Railways,” he said.

“Tiyak kong makakahanap ng mainam na paraan, na ang dulo po noon ay hindi mapapatid o hindi magkakaroon ng seryosong pag-antala o pagputol sa serbisyo ng Philippine National Railways,” he added. PND (as)

PIA News Dispatch - Friday, May 2, 2014

Bohol FabLab will help province recover from quake devastation, says official

The launch of the Bohol Fabrication Laboratory (FabLab) Shared Service Facility will be a big boost to the province’s recovery efforts, following last year’s devastating earthquake, a government official said Friday.

“I guess it’s the resiliency, at saka iyong sipag, iyong tiyaga ng mga Boholano to really help themselves in rebuilding what was damaged by the earthquake,” Trade Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya told reporters in an interview in Tagbilaran on Friday.

“Madali silang nakabangon at hindi sila nawalan ng pag-asa. It’s really the drive and the culture of the Boholanos,” she said.

Most of the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are operating normally today, several months after the quake, Maglaya said, adding that 95 percent of these enterprises are already back in operation.

The FabLab is a new thing that also involves new technology in Bohol, the trade official noted.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is working with partners like the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Bohol Island State University (BISU) to achieve the objectives of the FabLab.

The DTI is opening the door to the DOST, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Department of Education (DepEd), considering the huge potential of FabLab in Bohol, Maglaya said.

President Benigno S. Aquino III attended the launch of the FabLab in Bohol on Friday as well as the first FabLab Asian Network (FAN1) Boot Camp and Conference.

The Bohol FabLab is a technical prototyping platform for innovation and invention, providing stimulus for local entrepreneurship. It is also a platform for learning and innovation. FabLab has tie-ups with global educators, technologists, researchers and innovators from about 50 countries.

The laboratory, the first of its kind in the country, aims to help Boholanos to be competitive, especially in the creative industry sector, by providing tools and equipment for prototyping and modeling. PND (as)

Pension problems first before salary adjustment, says President Aquino

President Benigno S. Aquino III said Friday that although he wants an adjustment in the compensation of 1.6 million government employees, he believes priority must be given to the pension of retired police and military personnel.

“Bago natin dagdagan iyong sweldo, benepisyo ng mga empleyado ng gobyerno, baka naman dapat nating isiping bayaran muna iyong mga obligasyon natin sa empleyado ng gobyerno o mga dating empleyado ng gobyerno,” the President said when asked by reporters during an interview in Tagbilaran City whether he supports a legislation seeking an adjustment in the salary of government employees to prevent corruption in government.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has recently proposed an increase in the salary of government employees, including elected officials, so they would not be tempted to engage in corruption.

President Aquino said that while it is also his ambition to give employees higher compensation, it is a challenge at this point, since the government has pending obligations in some areas of the bureaucracy.

“Ambisyon natin iyon. Ang tanong, ambisyon, kaya ba nating gawin?” he said.

President Aquino noted that the pension and benefits of retiring members of the police and military remain unfunded at this time.

Each year, their pensions are being funded by the government from the national budget, he said, adding that based on recent figures from the Budget Department, funding the police and military pensions requires a seed money of P4.3 trillion, which is even higher than the country’s current national budget of P2.6 trillion.

It may be good from the perspective of the politicians, he said of the proposed salary increase.

He however said that he does not want to lie to the people and that he will only back measures that are realistic and practical.

President Aquino said that rather than increasing the salary of government employees, he is more inclined to give them incentives, for instance, housing benefits.

The government has provided more than 50,000 houses for members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), he said.

He said his administration is considering offering land reclamation projects for sale to raise money for pensions for retired police and military personnel.

Senator Trillanes has proposed that the President’s monthly salary be increased from less than P100,000 at present to P1 million. He also proposed that the lowest grade government employees receive a monthly salary of P9,000 to P16,000. PND (as)

Government continues to support Bohol reconstruction, President Aquino says

The government continues to support the rehabilitation efforts in quake-hit Bohol, with some infrastructures already completed and some projects still ongoing, President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Friday.

All roads in Bohol are usable, while temporary bridges are passable and permanent bridges will be completed by October, the President said after visiting a fabrication laboratory in Tagbilaran City.

The National Housing Authority’s (NHA) home materials assistance program has helped 38,800 families in nine municipalities devastated by the earthquake, he said.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), under its emergency shelter assistance program, meanwhile gave P10,000 to each of 34,000 families in eight municipalities.

The President also reported that 4,517 housing units are being built to replace the 8,000 houses totally damaged during the earthquake.

The construction of the remaining units will start this month and will be completed by October, he said, quoting the DSWD.

The project is a partnership between Habitat for Humanity and concerned local government units.

So far, 11,398 individuals have benefitted from the government’s cash-for-work program, and documentary requirements are being arranged for another 42,000 to gain partial employment, he reported.

The construction of the Panglao airport will start soon, he said, explaining that the project has been delayed because experts had to study the soil to determine if it could support airport activity.

The President said that after a study conducted by the University of the Philippines, experts concluded that with technological intervention, the project could push through.

With the construction of the new Panglao airport, the area is viewed as the next Boracay, President Aquino said. PND (as)

President Aquino says he has submitted his SALN

President Benigno S. Aquino III said Friday his office has already submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), which showed his asset and net worth increasing by P1.3 million.

The President attributed the rise in his asset and net worth to interest income, which came from cash on-hand that earned interest at a particular interest rate.

President Aquino said he divested all his other interests and let his siblings handle his expenses, which his sisters eventually liquidated.

“Babayaran ko sila by the time I recover full control of the assets that I have. So inabonohan muna nila to a large degree. I expect my last SALN to have a mark reduction,” he said in an interview with the press in Tagbilaran City in Bohol.

The President was in Bohol for the launch of the Fabrication Laboratory (FABLAB) at the Bohol Island State University in Tagbilaran Friday. PND (as)

President Aquino wants safe shelter for ‘Yolanda’ victims

President Benigno S. Aquino III said he wanted families affected by Typhoon Yolanda to have safe shelters before the onset of the rainy season in June.

“I keep telling everybody involved, ang start of our rainy season is June and we are already in May. These communities have to be able to be, shall we say, iyong parang resistant to any typhoon that will be forthcoming,” he told reporters in an interview in Tagbilaran City on Friday.

The President also encouraged everyone to be optimistic, saying the country will soon recover from the devastation caused by recent calamities.

In his last trip to Leyte, he said he observed some concerns, which were acted upon by government agencies.

He further noted that there is an ongoing cash-for-work program to clear areas of coconut logs.

According to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, at least 10,000 logs are collected daily, the President said.

Former senator Panfilo Lacson, who was tasked by the President to oversee reconstruction efforts in Leyte, will make a presentation on the rehabilitation plans for Typhoon Yolanda-affected communities.

“I have yet to hear from Secretary Lacson the new rehabilitation plan. Pero the good news is, from the daunting figure of over P300 billion needed to build back these communities better, we are now talking of slightly over a hundred billion,” he said. PND (as)

Government to look into use of solar power

The government is looking at supporting the installation of solar panels in private institutions and educational facilities to ease power consumption from traditional sources of energy, President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Friday.

During his visit to Tagbilaran City in Bohol, the President was asked about government efforts to reduce the high cost of power in the country and to produce more electricity.

He said the Department of Energy has facilitated a new business model between suppliers of solar panels and various private and educational institutions.

In the previous business model, he said, solar panel suppliers sold their products on a one-time, lump sum basis, requiring a huge amount of investment.

“Under the new model, basically iyong masa-save ng mga school from their electricity bills will be utilized to pay for the installation of these solar panels over a period of, I think, 15 years,” he said, explaining that this scheme will have an impact on power generation.

But in the long term, the government’s thrust is to encourage investors to put up more power-generating plants, the President said, adding that, as the economy performs well, the demand for electricity will also increase.

Another plan is to encourage more competition among investors producing power and for this to be effective, there must be amendments to the EPIRA Law, he said.

The government is also looking into putting limits to the trading range in the energy spot market, he added.

“It is a multi-pronged strategy. Umpisa muna sa generating, dagdagan. Second siguro, baka i-spread out kung paano nakukuha ang electricity, and solar is one of them. Ang third is a review of all the pertinent laws on how to encourage competition so that there will be a drive for greater efficiencies, which will redound to more reasonable prices,” the President said. PND (as)

President Aquino leads FabLab launch in Bohol

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday led the launch of the Bohol Fabrication Laboratory (FabLab) SSF Project and the Fan1 Boot Camp and Conference in Tagbilaran City in Bohol.

The President said that the launch of FabLab will mean a stronger and better Bohol as the province recovers from last year’s devastating earthquake.

“Ang mga inisyatiba pong tulad nito ay isang makabuluhang hakbang upang mas mapabilis pa ang pagbangon ng Bohol,” he said in his message during the event held at the Bohol Island State University (BISU).

“Ang hangad po natin: itaguyod ang probinsya ninyo na mas masigla, mas maunlad, at mas hitik ang pagkakataon kaysa noong bago pa ang lindol.”

Putting up FabLab is part of a government strategy to help the country’s micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), according to the President.

He said he expects the 135 MSMEs in Bohol to benefit from the modern equipment in FabLab, such as the laser cutter, computer-numerical-controlled milling machines, print-and-cut machines, 3D printer, and video conferencing facilities.

The chief executive also commended the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for helping the country’s MSMEs. In 2013, he said, the DTI established 475 shared services facilities in different parts of the Philippines to support the operations of some 10,000 MSMEs.

“Sa tulong nito, nai-aangat natin ang kabuhayan ng ating mga kababayan, at umuunlad din ang kakayahan nating makipagsabayan sa iba’t ibang larangan,” he added.

FabLab is a facility that started at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2001. Its objective is to help communities create new designs through the use of modern technology.

FabLab’s backers include the DTI, Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the BISU, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The President also praised Bohol’s local leaders for spearheading reconstruction programs that benefit the people. PND (as)

President Aquino lauds Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines for triple feat

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday commended the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) for achieving a triple feat in Philippine aviation.

The President, who graced the thanksgiving celebration of CAAP, extended his gratitude to its Director General William Hotchkiss and its employees.

He said he wanted to give CAAP “a million thanks” for its achievements, the first of which was the removal of the Philippines from the list of International Civil Aviation Organization members with unresolved significant safety concerns. This was in March last year.

The CAAP was also responsible for last year’s delisting of Manila from the blacklist set by the European Union, allowing Philippine Airlines to resume flights to London, Paris, Rome and Amsterdam.

It also helped the country address civil aviation safety concerns, resulting in the upgrade of the Philippines from Category 2 to Category 1 by the US Federal Aviation Authority.

President Aquino said that with the improvement of Philippine civil aviation, he is expecting a boost in the country’s tourism industry. PND (ag)