Monday, 2 June 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, May 15, 2014

President Aquino inaugurates solar energy project in San Carlos City

(SAN CARLOS CITY, Negros Occidental) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday led the inauguration of the San Carlos Solar Energy, Inc. (SACASOL) Phase I that is expected to boost the region’s electricity supply.

In his message, the President said the new power facility will enliven the local economy and provide decent sources of livelihood for the people.

It will also add to the energy mix and help ensure a more steady supply of power in Western Visayas, he said.

President Aquino further said that the inauguration of the power plant is historic because SACASOL is the first large-scale commercially financed and commissioned solar power plant in the Philippines under the present administration.

"Because of this new project, the Visayas grid will eventually benefit from an additional 22 MW, 13 from Phase 1, which is being completed, and the remaining 9 MW, I understand, by the end of June, which is not too far away," he said.

The investment that SACASOL made should serve as a model to energy investors, he said, adding that the company is ahead of the pack, reaping the maximum benefits and incentives given by the government.

The President encouraged investors in the energy sector to put their money in the region and not to doubt the present business climate in the country.

At the same time, he mentioned the prospects of more energy projects to be built in the region in the future.

"In this light, I am pleased to announce that more power plants are underway for the Visayas Grid alone, with most slated for commissioning from this year until 2016: from traditional energy sources, to geothermal, to hydropower, to wind, to biomass, making for an incoming committed capacity of 591.60 MW," he said.

And as the country moves closer towards realizing the vision of achieving inclusive growth for the Philippines, he said, the government needs energy stakeholders as partners for development.

"Thus, let us continue to work even harder, together, towards realizing our vision for the Philippines—let us continue to bring light into people’s homes, into their workspaces and businesses, and illuminate the path to responsible, sustained, and inclusive growth," he said. PND (as)

Aquino administration reaffirms commitment to uphold rule of law

The Aquino administration has reaffirmed its commitment to uphold the rule of law in pursuing legal action against criminals on behalf of the state and the people.

In a press briefing on Thursday, Presidential Communication Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. underscored the importance of adhering to the rule of law and abiding by the legal requirements in seeking justice, including in the alleged anomalous use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.

“To ferret out the truth, we need to adhere to the rule of law and follow the legal requirements for gathering, validating and presenting evidence that meet the standards of judicial proof. That is the process that is being undertaken by the Department of Justice,” Coloma said.

The Secretary made the statement amid the issue on the so-called "Napoles list," where alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles linked several lawmakers and government officials to the PDAF scandal.

Coloma said the Aquino government is one with the public in its quest to know the truth and serve justice to the people.

He reiterated what President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared time and again: “Let the evidence point to the direction of the inquiry.”

“To attain the ends of justice, the President has directed the DOJ to work closely with the Office of the Ombudsman and the Commission on Audit to build credible cases that will meet judicial standards,” he said.

He noted that the process of adhering to the rule of law has led the Aquino government to file three major cases with the Ombudsman against the previous administration, and the Ombudsman has issued a resolution on one of the three cases.

“This administration is firmly committed to upholding the rule of law in the prosecution of plunder, graft and other crimes. This is a fine opportunity to demonstrate that good governance translates into justice for all, without fear or favor,” he said.

Secretary Coloma also reminded the citizenry to maintain vigilance and remain steadfast in the quest for truth as the wheels of justice have begun to turn on the PDAF case. PND (jb)

Aquino administration remains focused on solving crimes, Palace official says

The administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III remains committed to efforts to solve and prevent crimes in the country, a Malacanang official said Thursday.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Philippine National Police (PNP) remain focused on solving crimes.

“Todo tutok pa rin ang ating Pangulo at ang Secretary of Interior and Local Government, at ang chief of the PNP sa sitwasyon,” Secretary Coloma said during a press briefing in Malacanang.

President Aquino regularly monitors the crime situation in the country, Secretary Coloma said, adding that the President receives updates directly from police officers in the field.

“Kaya masinsin ‘yung ugnayan na nagaganap araw-araw. Hindi ito paper-pushing, hindi nakukuntento sa ni-report; hindi naghihintay ng quarterly command conference,” he said.

“Talagang in the course of a day, tinututukan ‘yung mga major developments at kung may mga seryosong krimen, naiuulat kaagad ito sa Pangulo at tinitiyak niya na mayroon kaagad follow-up action at mayroong update.”

Coloma also cited some of the government’s efforts to thwart and solve crimes, such as hiring civilians to do the administrative duties of policemen, who in turn are deployed to the streets to boost police visibility.

“Madalas ipaalala ng Pangulo ang bilang ng ating kapulisan ngayon pareho doon sa bilang nito noong 1986. Kung ikukumpara natin ‘yung total population noong 1986 sa ngayon, ay dumoble na, pero pareho pa rin ‘yung bilang ng pulis,” he said.

“Kaya, di ba, naalala natin nagpalabas na ang PNP ng mas marami pang pulis sa pamamagitan ng paglibre sa kanila doon sa mga administrative duties. Hindi na ‘yung pulis mismo ang nagpe-perform ng administrative duties; kumuha na ng civilian personnel,” he said.

“Kaya ginagawa ang lahat para mapunuan iyong mahigpit na pangangailangan of more visible deployment.”

Secretary Coloma also noted the importance of police community relations, as well as the role of “force multipliers” in intensifying the fight against crime.

He expressed hope that the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, chaired by Senator Grace Poe, would be able to come up with a law that would further strengthen law enforcement. PND (co)

President Aquino opens new Himoga-an Bridge in Sagay City

(SAGAY CITY, Negros Occidental) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday led the inauguration of the New Himoga-an Bridge and an access road that would boost the economy and tourism of Sagay City in Negros Occidental province.

The P313-million New Himoga-an Bridge is 105 lineal meters long while the access road spans 3.42 kilometers.

The bridge cuts the distance between Sagay City and Cadiz City by more than two kilometers, and reduces travel time between the two cities by about 20 minutes, the President said in his message during the inauguration.

It is also much safer because the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) built it using high-quality construction materials, he said.

He further noted that the opening of the new bridge will help the local economy as it cuts the travel time in transporting sugarcane from the farms to the mills and refineries.

"Gayundin, mapapaundlad natin ang turismo dito sa Sagay dahil mas madali nang makapunta sa mga destinasyon, tulad ng Carbin Reef at Molocaboc Island," he said.

The President expressed his gratitude to Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson for completing the project, as well as provincial officials who helped build the New Himoga-an Bridge.

At the same time, he asked the people to continue supporting his administration’s reform agenda.

"Narating natin ang puntong ito dahil nagtulungan tayo; at kung hihinto tayo sa ating agenda ng reporma, ay babalik lamang tayo sa baluktot na sistema," he said.

In a short project briefing, Secretary Singson told the people of Negros Occidental that his department will continue to build infrastructure that will benefit the region.

He said the DPWH has spent more than P8 billion to build roads and bridges in the province.

A total budget of P11.9 billion has been allotted for Negros Occidental alone, Singson said, noting that the amount is 34 percent of the total allocation for Region 6 (Western Visayas).

Also present during the occasion were Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Maranon, Jr., and Sagay City Mayor Alfredo Maranon III. PND (as)

President Aquino: Philippines must focus on crafting Code of Conduct, arbitration to resolve territorial row with China

(SAN CARLOS CITY, Negros Occidental) President Benigno S. Aquino III said he would rather focus on pursuing the country's case in the international arbitral tribunal and on crafting a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) than react to China's actions.

Tensions have escalated between China and Vietnam in the Paracel Islands after China positioned an oil rig in the area. The Paracel Islands is occupied by China but is being claimed by Vietnam.

During the inauguration of a solar energy project here Thursday, the President was asked by reporters if the newly signed Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) could help the Philippines as China aggressively asserts its dominance in contested areas in the West Philippines Sea.

He however said that instead of predicting the things that might happen, the country must concentrate on the crafting of the Code of Conduct (COC) by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"Dapat ay trabahuhin na lang natin ‘yung mga kilos na ginagawa natin tulad ‘nung pagsusulong ng ASEAN ng Code of Conduct at saka ‘yung arbitration," the President said during an interview.

A binding Code of Conduct will clarify the rights of every claimant country as well as its obligations with regards to its claim in the West Philippine Sea.

Once the issue is resolved, there will be more understanding among claimants and regional stability will follow, he said.

China and member countries of the ASEAN agreed on the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in 2002. The non-binding agreement aims to maintain the status quo and achieve regional stability.

The Philippines has signed the EDCA with the US in the midst of mounting tensions in the West Philippine Sea. Aside from strengthening defense cooperation with the US, the agreement aims to boost cooperation during times of disasters.

The EDCA also aims to enhance the military readiness of both countries as well as help the Philippines modernize its armed forces. PND (as)

Palace asks CHED to monitor unreasonable tuition fee hike

Malacanang on Thursday directed the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to ensure that there will be no unreasonable tuition fee increase in private universities and colleges.

In a press briefing, Presidential Communication Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said that while some tuition fee hikes are inevitable, the CHED should ensure that the guidelines and requirements provided by the law on tuition fee increase should be met.

“Kaya ang titingnan nating katuwiran, paano ba ‘yung level of tuition fee compared to the quality of education being given by the college or university, be it state-owned or private. Iyan ang mga mahalagang batayan ng CHED sa pag-approve o pag-disapprove ng tuition fee hike,” he said.

The commission has reported that 353 private universities and colleges, 74 of which are in Metro Manila, have filed petitions for an increase in tuition and other fees this coming school year.

Coloma said every tuition fee increase should be justified, transparent and reasonable.

He noted that in tuition fee adjustments, 70 percent of the increase must be allotted to the salary and benefits of faculty and administrative personnel.

He added that the quality of education is commensurate to the quality of the faculty, thus teachers holding Master’s and Doctor’s degrees have the right to be compensated accordingly.

Those who cannot afford the tuition fee hike in private schools have an option to study in state universities and colleges, which are financed by the government, Coloma said. PND (jb)

Internal transformation needed to achieve excellence, says Coloma

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. has stressed the need for organizations to have an “internal transformation” for them to achieve excellence in their performance.

Coloma addressed delegates and awardees of the 16th Philippine Quality Award (PQA) who held a forum at the Ballroom of the Heritage Hotel Manila in Pasay City on Thursday.

He was speaking on behalf of one of the recipients of the award, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), which is attached to the PCOO. The PQA Program presents awards to public and private organizations which strive for and attain performance excellence.

Coloma said during the forum that he believes that giving quality service must come from within one’s self.

He said the PIA’s heads and employees had undergone a four-day ‘internal transformation’ seminar in Silang, Cavite.

“Kung hindi mangagaling sa kalooban ang pagbabago, hindi effective ‘yon,” said Coloma. “This will only happen when you are at peace with people you are working with.”

He also refuted that only the private sector could achieve excellence. “Maraming taga-government ang naglilingkod anonymously,” he said, citing as an example the military personnel who were mobilized in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda.

In the 14 years of Philippine Quality Award, PIA is only the 10th government agency to receive such recognition.

Also at the forum, which was entitled “Exemplifying Performance Excellence Amidst the Challenge of ASEAN Economic Community 2015”, were representatives of other PQA awardees, among them the Lyceum of the Philippines University, Manila; Department of Science and Technology Region XI; Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities; and the Zamboanga Polymedic Hospital, Inc. PND (ag)