Friday, 9 May 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Malacanang announces launch of revised Foreign Aid Transparency Hub

Malacanang on Wednesday announced the launch of the revised Foreign Aid Transparency Hub (FAiTH) that will allow more countries and organizations to give aid with more transparency and accountability.

“Today, we launch Version 2.0 of the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub, with enhancements that allow it to deliver more fully on its promise of transparency and accountability for aid and assistance given to the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda. The improvements that distinguish FAiTH 2.0 from its initial launch, lie primarily in the fact that 64 countries and 7 multilateral organizations now have access to FAiTH’s content management system,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing in Malacanang.

He said that by utilizing FAiTH 2.0, “each embassy or organization possessing a unique account username and password, will now have the ability to input or update their country or organization’s cash and non-cash pledges.”

Lacierda said “necessary measures” have been installed in FAiTH2 “to ensure accuracy and ease of verification.”

“As embassies update their data, each successful entry will generate a unique transaction ID and an electronic alert sent to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). Each update must also be officially communicated to the DFA via Note Verbale,” he said.

“A number of these embassies and organizations have already updated their data; thus, the figures on this version of FAiTH are also the most updated figures on aid and assistance,” he added.

Lacierda noted that FAiTH Version 2.0 is founded on a system that “emphasizes accuracy and our collective responsibility to ensure that every form of assistance given out of the good will of the global community achieves its intended goal: to help the survivors of ‘Yolanda’.”

“By so doing, it strengthens partnerships, fosters trust, and ensures that we will continue our march on the journey to recovery and resilience together,” he added, inviting members of the press to visit the FAiTH website.

“These are all part of our commitment to Open Government Partnership. . . that allows us to upload government data in a form that is searchable, accessible, and understandable,” he said. PND (rck)

Palace ready to defend constitutionality of Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with U.S.

Malacanang is ready to defend the constitutionality of the recently signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the United States and the Philippine governments, a Palace official said Wednesday.

“If some people choose to avail of judicial processes to question the agreement’s constitutionality, the government is prepared to defend the EDCA,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters in a press briefing.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago has criticized President Benigno S. Aquino III for allowing the signing of the agreement, saying the Senate and the Executive Branch are supposed to share the power to make treaties.

Santiago was also quoted by press reports as saying that the signing of EDCA will strain Philippine-Chinese relations.

According to news reports, former Senator Joker Arroyo said the Senate should have been consulted before the signing of the EDCA.

Arroyo further commented that the Philippines has nothing to gain from the agreement.

“We defer in the opinion with Senator Joker Arroyo,” Lacierda said, adding that the country stands to gain a lot from the EDCA.

He said among the benefits is the modernization of the military hardware of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“An enhanced feature of the EDCA is the emphasis on humanitarian assistance on disaster response, which we saw very, very clearly in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda,” explained Lacierda. PND (ag)

Palace welcomes Philippines’ removal from U.S. Special 301 watch list

MalacaƱang on Wednesday welcomed the announcement made by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), removing the Philippines from its Special 301 Watch List after consistently appearing in it for the past 20 years.

The Special 301 Watch List is prepared annually by the USTR to track “countries that deny adequate and effective protection for intellectual property rights (IPR) or deny fair and equitable market access for persons that rely on intellectual property protection.”

In a statement, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the USTR’s announcement recognizes the recent reforms championed by the Aquino administration, as a consequence of significant changes in IPR legislation and regulation.

“This serves as a testament to the government’s continuing commitment to uphold the rights of professionals and consumers alike, ensuring that their hard work is recognized and protected by legislation. We welcome this recognition from the USTR, along with their promise to maintain a positive engagement with the Philippines,” he said.

Lacierda added that this development “marks a significant step forward as we harmonize our IPR protection efforts with those of other nations, never tiring in the task of safeguarding the rights of our citizens.”

“Rest assured that we will continue to strive in the same vein, as we reap even more achievements and work toward greater success,” he said.

The USTR made the announcement on Monday, two days before the scheduled release date of the Special 301 Watch List on April 30, to coincide with the state visit of US President Barack Obama to the Philippines on April 28-29.

The USTR, in coming up with the decision, cited the laudable civil and administrative gains made by Philippine authorities in IPR enforcement and protection, according to reports.

The Philippines continuously appeared on the watch list since 1994. It was one of only two countries removed by the USTR from the list this year, Israel being the other. PND (hdc)