Singaporean President arriving for four-day state visit
Singaporean President Tony Tan Keng Yam will be arriving Wednesday for a four-day state visit to the Philippines, the Palace said on Tuesday.
This is President Tan’s first official visit to the Philippines and serves as a reciprocal visit to President Aquino’s state visit to Singapore in 2011. The two leaders are expected to discuss cooperative activities in defense, trade and investment.
President Tan is scheduled to lay a wreath at the monument of Dr. Jose Rizal at the Luneta Park on Thursday. He will then proceed to Malacanang, where President Aquino will tender a state luncheon in his honor.
The visiting Singaporean leader will meet with the Philippine-Singapore Business Council on Friday to strengthen trade ties between the two countries.
President Tan will then visit the typhoon-ravaged areas in Tacloban, Leyte and Basey, Western Samar, where he will turn over medical supplies to the Basey District Hospital. The hospital is the beneficiary of the joint rehabilitation project by the Singapore Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Singapore was the Philippines’ fourth largest trade partner last year, with total trade amounting to $8.22 billion. PND (as)
Palace: Safety measures in place to protect vital installations from Chinese control
The Palace on Tuesday assured that the country’s telecommunications and energy sectors are free from any form of control or intrusion by foreign countries, particularly China.
As the dispute in the West Philippine Sea heightens, it is feared that Chinese companies or the Chinese government, which have investments in the Philippines, might be controlling and intruding in the country’s vital installations.
In a press briefing in Malacanang, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said a former official of the Department of Energy has assured him that the government has already taken sufficient measures to ensure the integrity of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP). The corporation has a contractual agreement with a Chinese service provider.
“At all times, Filipino managers and officials are in control of the important operations of the NGCP. So that is what we have done with respect to that. The same holds for your concern, the telecommunication sector,” Coloma said.
“We have a National Telecommunications Commission that is doing the necessary steps to ensure the integrity of our telecom system.”
Issues have also been raised regarding the influx of Chinese nationals in the Philippines, with some groups asking the government to review the country’s old immigration law.
With regards to this immigration issue, Coloma said: “We have ascertained the parameters of our immigration law, and our Bureau of Immigration and Deportation is committed to uphold this law effectively and decisively.”
Tensions have been rising in the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), particularly with China’s more aggressive stance in recent years.
Last week, China tried to block a Philippine supply ship from reaching a military position in the Ayungin Shoal.
The Philippines over the weekend filed a memorial or a written pleading to the international arbitral tribunal, supporting the country’s claim in the West Philippine Sea. PND (as)
President Aquino honors outstanding policemen
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Tuesday presented awards to 37 members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in recognition of their outstanding dedication to the service during this year's Araw ng Parangal sa Kapulisan held in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
The awardees were led by PNP Deputy Chief for Administration, Deputy Director General Felipe Rojas Jr., who was given the Special Service Medal. The same medal was bestowed upon National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Regional Director Carmelo Valmoria and Chief Superintendent Juanito Vaño, who were part of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) and Police Regional Office (PRO) IX units that responded during last year’s Zamboanga siege.
Also given the Special Service Medal were Senior Superintendent Ronald de la Rosa for fighting terrorism, and PRO VIII’s Senior Superintendent Teodoro Basa for responding at the height of super typhoon ‘Yolanda’.
Awarded with the Medal of Bravery for their services during the Zamboanga crisis were Chief Inspector Reynaldo Ariño and PO3 Alfredo Guinaat Jr. of the 5th Special Action Battalion, alongside Inspector Marlon Ancheta, PO3 Ismael Hussin, and PO2 Jimkristene Bagioeng of the Rapid Deployment Battalion.
The Medal of Heroism, meanwhile, was presented to Inspector Jones Aspilan, SPO1 Isidro Martus, PO3 Gilbert de Leon, Superintendent William Gadayan, Senior Inspector Juliuzar Asdani, Senior Inspector Ryean Lhoyd Bato, Inspector Jivertson Pelovello, Ispector Rey Tolosa Jr., PO2 Edgardo Gamutin, and PO1 Ebba Baguinda, while SPO1 Jonathan Nodado received the Medal of Merit. They were cited for responding to the Zamboanga standoff.
Also awarded the Medal of Heroism were PRO VII’s Senior Inspector Jacinto Mandal, Jr., who helped save lives during the Bohol earthquake, and PRO VIII’s SPO1 Rodrigo Redoña Jr., PO3 Jomacsigel Ogdoc, PO2 Gilbert Lopera, Inspector Marjorie Manuta, and PO3 Rommel Basinang who reported for duty when ‘Yolanda’ was wreaking havoc in Leyte.
Non-uniformed personnel Noli de la Cruz received the Outstanding Conduct Medal for his heroic exploits during the super typhoon.
The Distinguished Conduct Medal was awarded to PO1 Roel Armecin of PRO XII for his display of conspicuous courage and gallantry in action by repulsing some 15 fully armed men, who attacked the T’boli Community Assistance Center in Sinolon, T’boli, South Cotabato last year.
For their significant contributions in the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign, Chief Inspector Roque Merdiaga Jr., SPO4 Lito Pirote, and PO3 Lawerence Perida each received the PNP Medal of Heroism.
For their valuable efforts leading to the recent arrest of most wanted swindler Delfin Lee, Chief Inspector Rafael Lero, SPO1 Dante Cabalquinto, and PO3 Eugen Amoyo were awarded the PNP Medal of Heroism.
And for having been wounded in action while gallantly defending the Matanao Police Station in Davao del Sur during an attack by some 100 lawless armed men last March 10, Inspector Sherwin Ray Cadungog and PO1 Nelbert Legaspi were presented the PNP Wounded Personnel Medal.
In his speech, President Aquino thanked the awardees for their selfless dedication to the industry, and appealed to them to continue applying the same attitude at work as the government addresses their concerns.
“We are addressing all of the issues that we inherited from your pension system that is unfunded to ensure that that which was promised to you by the state will be delivered by the state,” he said.
“We have really reformed the systems and procedures to make sure that you are not given missions impossible. We are there to back you up all the way. We ask in return that you be true to that sworn duty of yours to protect and serve the community, which nourishes you, and which relies and depends on you,” the President added. PND (hdc)
Defense, security major will be topics during Obama-Aquino meeting, says Palace
Defense and security will be a major agenda for discussion when US President Barack Obama and President Benigno S. Aquino III meet during the American leader’s visit to the Philippines late this month, the Palace said Tuesday.
“Defense and security will definitely be a topic in the talks between President Aquino and President Obama. And when you talk of this topic, the most relevant issue that can be discussed would be the West Philippine Sea. So, it is entirely within the realm of possibility,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a press briefing in Malacanang.
He however said other issues will be tackled during the discussion of the two leaders because what is involved is the strategic partnership between the two countries.
Meanwhile, on the country’s claim in the West Philippine Sea, Coloma said the Philippines is looking at other avenues to resolve the issue peacefully.
Part of the administration’s thrust is to push for a binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), he said.
“We continue to engage our fellow ASEAN members, both bilaterally and multilaterally, that there must be an ASEAN centric approach, considering that there are overlapping expanded economic zones in the claims of the various member countries,” Coloma said.
“So we just continue our policy of peaceful and diplomatic engagement,” he added.
On Sunday, the Philippine government filed a memorial at the international arbitral tribunal, presenting evidence and arguments on the country’s claim in the West Philippine Sea.
The US State Department recently issued a statement, calling China’s act of blocking a Philippine supply ship in Ayungin Shoal as “provocative.”
The US government said it does not take sides on the conflicting claims among countries in the West Philippine Sea, but it is after ensuring freedom of navigation in the contested territory. PND (as)
Palace: Government watching oil price movements
The government said it is closely monitoring the movement of oil prices in the country and will be ready to extend support to the transport sector, if necessary.
In a press briefing in Malacanang, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is watching the situation and will decide on a fare increase if it is justified.
“Iyon pong pagbabago ng presyo ng mga produktong petrolyo, dekada na po ang lumipas simula noong naging deregulated itong sistemang ito. At kapag sumapit naman doon sa punto na kinakailangang magsagawa ng kongkretong aksyon ang ating pamahalaan ay gagawin ito katulad nang ginawa noon noong nagpatupad tayo nung Pantawid Pasada measure para matulungan iyong mga public utility vehicle owners,” Coloma said.
The Palace official noted that there is a process that needs to be followed and that it is being enforced by the LTFRB.
“So daanin lang po natin sa tamang proseso at ginagawa naman po ng pamahalaan ang nararapat,” he said.
On proposals in Congress to suspend the value added tax (VAT) on petroleum products, Coloma said this is up to the lawmakers.
The Palace will carry out policy approved by Congress if it thinks such law is necessary for the benefit of the people, he said. PND (as)
Bangsamoro Basic Law draft still on track: Palace
The drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law is still on track even if the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) missed their self-imposed deadline to submit the draft on March 31, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said Tuesday.
“Dumadaloy ‘yung proseso ng pag-aaral na hahantong sa pagsusumite nung draft ang Bangsamoro Basic Law sa panahong nasa loob nung pinagkasunduan. Kaya’t panatag naman sila na umuusad ang prosesong ito sa tamang bilis,” said Coloma.
He said Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Deles has released a statement from MILF Chief Negotiator Mohaquer Igbal that the MILF is doing what it can to finish the draft.
“Mr. Iqbal (said) that everything that is needed to be done is being done and that the process is proceeding according to expectations,” he said.
Coloma assured the public that the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be passed and that the government will not allow anything to disrupt this.
“Hindi naman po natin papayagan na madiskaril kaya nandoon po ‘yung sense of urgency at nandoon ‘yung sense of determination ng pamahalaan for what needs to be done,” he said. PND (ag)
President Aquino cites extraordinary women of the police force
The National Women’s Month may be over but President Benigno S. Aquino III is apparently not yet done honoring the descendants of Eve as he commended the extraordinary women of the male-dominated police force.
In an impromptu speech delivered at the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Araw ng Parangal sa Kapulisan on Tuesday, President Aquino cited the exceptional professionalism displayed by Police Inspector Marjorie Manuta, who was presented a Medal of Merit.
Manuta, who serves as City Operations Officer of the Tacloban City Police Office, was one of 20 police officers who immediately showed up to help rescue civilians in the aftermath of super typhoon “Yolanda.”
She walked five to six kilometers from home to reach their police station and ensured it was functioning to assist people who were reporting missing relatives. This she did, despite the devastation suffered by her own family.
“‘Nung dumating po tayo sa Tacloban, siya ang isa sa unang nag-briefing sa atin, kung saan, number one, alam niya kung ano ang sinasabi niya; number two, talaga namang ‘yung dedication, five to six kilometers nilakad dahil kailangan ng mga alagad ng batas, lalo na sa panahon na nagkakaroon ng looting doon sa Tacloban?” President Aquino said.
He noted that out of PNP-Tacloban’s 290 officers, only 20 showed up at the police station.
“And this lady, at the risk to herself, at the risk of parang leaving her family unattended, performed her duty, which we are now acknowledging,” he said.
President Aquino also lauded the bravery shown by four policewomen who traded bullets with robbers who broke into a jewelry store inside the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City last Sunday.
“They did not think twice about it … takbo kaya tayo dito o hintayin na nating tumigil ‘yung kaguluhan diyan bago lumapit? Lumapit, pinagtanggol ang ating mamamayan,” the President said, adding that the public should look up to them as role models.
“Ang ating mamamayan ‘pag tiningnan ang kapulisan sana ganoon ang makikita, parating role model. ‘Pag merong police diyan, sigurado tayong panatag ang kalooban natin,” he said. PND (hdc)
No need for UN peacekeepers in West Philippine Sea, Palace says
Malacanang said Tuesday there is no need to call on the United Nations (UN) to intervene in the ongoing maritime territorial dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea.
Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said it is unlikely that UN Peacekeepers will be sent to the West Philippine Sea, even with the recent incident near the disputed Ayungin Shoal.
“Titingnan natin. Tinitimbang naman natin ang sitwasyon. Pero pansinin naman natin na sa larangang ‘yan nagkakaroon lang ng ganyang sitwasyon kapag ito ay isang bagay na inilahad na mismo sa United Nations General Assembly, saka lang nagte-take action ang UN. Sa ngayon naman ay hindi naman humahantong sa ganyang antas ‘yung conflict na pinag-uusapan natin,” said Coloma.
He also dismissed reports that the Chinese Foreign Minister has accused the Philippines of bringing media people to the Ayungin Shoal to create some media hype.
“I don’t think we have hype or have given excessive coverage to this matter. All we did was to provide an opportunity for some members of (the) media to see firsthand the situation.… And they have reported it as they have seen it,” said Coloma.
Coloma downplayed speculations that China is being aggressive as there is an ongoing Visiting Forces Agreement between the United States and the Philippines.
“It is up for other countries to interpret the actions that we take, and the actions that we take are dictated by our own national interest and not in response to what other countries want to see or want to happen,” he said.
Other than the Ayungin Shoal, Manila and Beijing are quarreling over the Scarborough Shoal and the Kalayaan Group of Islands. PND (ag)