Friday, 9 May 2014

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)