Friday, 9 May 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, April 7, 2014

President Aquino swears in ambassadors, new government officials

President Benigno S. Aquino III administered the oath of office of newly appointed ambassadors and government officials in a ceremony at Malacanang’s Rizal Hall on Monday.

The newly appointed ambassadors were former Foreign Affairs spokesperson Raul Hernandez as Philippine Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, Petronila Garcia as Philippine Ambassador to Canada, and Joseph Gerald Angeles as Philippine Ambassador to South Africa.

Under the Department of Foreign Affairs, Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Jesus Yabes and Special Envoy of the President to the Gulf Cooperative Council Amable Aguiluz were also sworn into office.

Former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Eduardo Oban and Marciano Paynor Jr. were both sworn in as Undersecretaries under the Office of the Executive Secretary.

Other officials who took their oath of office were Jess Anthony Yu as Undersecretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office; Jose Emmanuel Reverente as Undersecretary of the Department of Finance; Edwin Carillo as Assistant Government Corporate Counsel under the Department of Justice; Victorio Mario Dimagiba as Undersecretary of the Department of Trade and Industry; Rodolfo Isorena as Vice Admiral of the Philippine Coast Guard under the Department of Transportation and Communications; and Luie Tito Guia as Commissioner of the Commission on Elections. PND (jb)

Palace vows to solve slaying of journalist

The Palace on Monday vowed to solve the slaying of journalist Rubylita Garcia in Cavite.

"We extend our condolences to the family of the late Rubylita Garcia and we promise that we will pursue this heinous death," Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing in Malacanang.

Citing information from the Philippine National Police, Lacierda said investigators have already produced an artist's sketch of the gunman “through the statement of a lone witness” and that a dedicated tracker team has been organized and is hunting down the killer.

Garcia, 52, a correspondent of the daily tabloid Remate, was gunned down by two men in front of her 10-year old daughter and another relative at her home in Bacoor City, Cavite early Sunday. She died in a hospital a few hours later.

Police said Garcia's attackers did not hide their identities when they barged into the victim's home at past 10 a.m. on Sunday.

Garcia was the publisher of the Pilipino Times and a member of the National Press Club. She was also president of a newly formed group of journalists in the Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) called the Confederation of Active Media Practitioners Organization.

Police said they are looking at politicians and policemen as possible masterminds of Garcia's murder.

Sunday's slaying is the 20th among Filipino journalists killed since 2010, when President Benigno S. Aquino III came to power. It is the 160th fatal attack on a media practitioner since 1986, when democracy was restored in the country. PND (as)

Palace determined to bring closure to P10-billion pork barrel scam: Spokesman

Malacanang said it has not changed its position in going after those involved in the P10-billion pork barrel scam because it has a strong case against them.

The administration will go where the evidence leads it, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing on Monday.

Lacierda was asked by reporters whether the Palace is underestimating the capability of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who is a veteran lawyer. Enrile is one of three senators accused of siphoning off millions from their pork barrel through bogus non-government organizations.

The government is going through a process, he said, adding that the Office of the Ombudsman has already issued a resolution on the case.

There are fears that Enrile will once again escape accountability, as he has done in the past. Enrile, along with Gringo Honasan, was acquitted in 1989 of involvement in a bloody coup d’├ętat against the presidency of Corazon Aquino.

Enrile’s case was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court because of problems in the case filed against him, Lacierda said.

What is very clear right now is that the government is going through the process to hold accountable all the people involved in the pork barrel scam, the Palace official said.

“The DOJ went through it, and the Ombudsman went through it also with a fine-toothed comb... The cases that are being filed right now, you can now see in the law statutes—in the law books,” he said.

The government looked at the country’s laws, and assessed the evidence gathered before coming up with the cases, Lacierda said.

“The DOJ decided to file the case before the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman reviewed the case, evaluated the case, and came up with the same assessment,” he noted.

“If it pushes through and proceeds to the Sandiganbayan, that’s where the arena is going to happen so we’ll just wait. We have always stated this time and time again, that we will go where the evidence leads us, and that applies to everyone, friend or foe,” he added. PND (as)

Palace: Gov’t not privatizing public hospitals

The administration is not privatizing government hospitals in the country but will only implement reform in governance, a Palace official said on Monday.

“It is not privatization. This is part of the governance reform with respect to public health,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in response to reports that the government is trying to privatize 70 to 100 government hospitals across the country.

For instance, the reform in the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC) was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Lacierda said during a press briefing.

It is a public-partnership project under a build, operate, and transfer scheme, he said, explaining that the private entity will design, build, and finance the project and they will operate and maintain the hospital for 25 years.

While there is partial privatization, it is not 100 percent privatized, he said, noting that out of 700 beds, only 30 percent will be for private use.

“Thirty percent of that is only 210 beds, and there would be 490 beds for public use, so 70 percent will still be for public use,” he said.

Regarding fears about rising hospital bills, he said it will not happen at the POC.

“Rates in POC will be competitive. It will be more or less the same as other government-run hospitals, like the Heart Center and the National Kidney Transplant Institute,” he said.

“And for indigents, PhilHealth will cover the bills and the government will continue to subsidize the POC for five years. The government will not relinquish management control and supervision of the Philippine Orthopedic Center.”

Lacierda also said that a governing council will be created to supervise the implementation of the rules and regulations of the POC to control unfair adjustments in rates. PND (as)

Gov't gives access to partner countries, multilateral agencies on content management of FAiTH website

To further enhance transparency mechanisms in government, 64 partner countries and seven multilateral organizations will be given access to the content management system of the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH) website, Malaca├▒ang announced on Monday.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda, in a statement, called this development “a significant step forward” in the Aquino administration’s commitment to build back better communities devastated by super typhoon “Yolanda”.

Donor countries and multilateral organizations will be given information on how to log in, manage content, and track their pledges on the FAiTH website through the account details to be distributed by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

It will enable donors to input cash and non-cash pledges electronically, with each successful pledge entry generating a unique transaction ID that can be used to monitor submitted information, he said.

Donors will then be able to export each entry as a PDF (portable document format) file, which can be printed and attached as an annex to a Note Verbale to the DFA.

On the part of the FAiTH Task Force, all information submitted by donors and partners will be accounted for, as electronic alerts will be sent to the DFA, Lacierda said.

The DFA will receive from donors and partners an official diplomatic communication via Note Verbale, and will then be able to authenticate each electronic submission. Upon verification, the DFA will clear submissions for publication on the FAiTH portal.

“FAiTH has always been an embodiment of the Aquino administration's commitment to enhance mechanisms for transparency in government,” Lacierda said.

“This development brings into the process our partners and friends in the international community—a testament to the importance of monitoring and managing aid, and, more importantly, a testimony to the shared responsibility of holding everyone accountable,” he added.

According to the latest figures posted on the FAiTH website, a total of P25,882,360,026.67 in foreign aid was pledged to the Philippines. Of this figure, only P643,203,308.23 was coursed through the government.

FAiTH was launched in November 18, 2013, 10 days after ‘Yolanda’ struck, to provide information on calamity aid and assistance, whether in cash or in kind, received by the Philippines from nations and multilateral organizations, as well as those coursed through our embassies abroad. PND (hdc)