Tuesday, 3 June 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, May 29, 2014

Government to continue carrying out job-generating projects to boost economic growth

The Palace said it will continue to implement the strategies in the updated Philippine Development Plan to generate more jobs for the people.

"To further boost employment, the Department of Labor and Employment will focus on implementing job creation facilitation programs targeted at businesses that are expanding operations," Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement Thursday.

Coloma said that according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), in its first quarter 2014 Business Expectation Survey, more than a third of the respondents have indicated expansion plans that could lead to an increase in job openings for the remainder of the year.

He said that National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan has emphasized that the government will focus on increasing investments from employers to generate high-quality and remunerative employment, which is vital in achieving rapid poverty reduction towards inclusive growth.

According to the NEDA, the country remains on track to reach its full-year growth target of between 6.5 and 7.5 percent as the government speeds up rehabilitation, construction, and recovery projects in areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda last year, Coloma said.

The sectors of manufacturing, tourism, information technology, business process management, construction, logistics, and agribusiness will be given priority in the hope that they would create more jobs, the Palace official said.

He further said that President Aquino is slated to convene a NEDA Board Meeting on Thursday afternoon.

The meeting’s main agenda would be the discussion and approval of Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) matters: road and interchange projects in NCR, Region I, and Region IV-A of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH); water district development projects of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA); the Angat Water Transmission Improvement Project of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS); LRT Line II Operations and Maintenance Project of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), River Irrigation Project of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and government hospital modernization of the Department of Health (DOH). PND (as)

Government bent on building strong case against those involved in pork barrel scam: Palace

Malacanang on Thursday reiterated that the administration would rather build strong cases than hasten the filing of weak lawsuits against those involved in the pork barrel scam.

“The government remains committed to pursuing an evidence-based inquiry and that any legal action will be based on firm and substantiated proof that can pass judicial scrutiny,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. told Palace reporters.

“The President believes that filing weak cases based on speculation or unsupported by unverified, or supported only by unverified information will be an exercise in futility, as those accused can go scot-free by invoking the principle of double jeopardy,” he said.

The Communication Secretary said that with the proliferation of lists and scenarios surrounding the testimony of the scam’s alleged mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, it is likely that “certain quarters” are muddling the issue.

“They may be carrying out a strategy of ‘burn the house down’ by implicating as many political personalities as possible, thereby misdirecting the inquiry and dissipating efforts to make those involved accountable before the bar of justice,” Coloma explained.

As for the Cabinet members implicated in the controversy, he said the President has reiterated that “mere allegation does not affect the presumption of regularity in the performance of their current duties.”

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Secretary Joel Villanueva have been included in Napoles’ list of those involved in the scam.

“There is a need to recognize the right to ‘presumption of innocence’, especially while no concrete proof of wrongdoing has been presented against them,” Coloma said.

“As the President has always emphasized, let the evidence point to the direction of the inquiry and let justice be carried out without fear or favor,” he added. PND (ag)

Philippines preparing for ASEAN integration, says official

The government will pay special attention to the improvement of sectors with a competitive advantage in preparation for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) integration next year, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr said.

One major focus of the government is the improvement of the country's agriculture sector, especially the production of high-quality and high-value crops, such as coffee, cacao, and sorghum, he said during Thursday’s press briefing.

"Mayroong mga programa ang ating Department of Agriculture para palakihin o yumabong ang mga sektor na ito, at mag-increase ang productive capacity ng mga lupang sinasaka," Coloma told reporters.

The DA also has tie-ups with food manufacturing companies to ensure a steady supply of fruits and vegetables for their processing operations, he added.

This initiative is part of the DA's diversification program to make the agriculture sector competitive by producing high-quality crops and increasing the productivity of local farmers, he said.

The government is also looking into ways to help provinces with a high incidence of poverty, the Palace official said.

He noted that the ASEAN integration is not "one big bang" event.

"ASEAN integration 2015 is an aspirational objective and a continuing work in process," Coloma said.

On the country's commitments to ASEAN integration, he said the Philippines is about 85 to 87 percent compliant and is not lagging behind its neighboring countries.

Although there are still gaps and there are sectors that need government support, the administration is doing everything to improve their performance so they could contribute to the national economy, he said.

The government also wants to help people in the marginalized section of society so they would be able to elevate themselves from the subsistence level to become self-reliant, Coloma said, adding that once this is achieved, they would be able to attain the basic level of sufficiency and quality of life. PND (as)

Palace awaiting Vatican’s official announcement of Papal visit

The Palace said Thursday it is awaiting the Vatican’s official announcement of Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines in January next year before the government starts making preparations.

“The Pope is a head of state and head of government, and not just a spiritual leader. So, there are protocols and diplomatic processes that will be observed. We will await the official announcement from the Vatican, which will be acknowledged or verified by our own Department of Foreign Affairs,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., said during a press briefing.

He however noted that the government is always in a state of preparing and improving the country, “visitor or no visitor”.

“Hindi naman po driven by state visitors ‘yung ating pagpapahusay sa ating bansa,” Coloma said.

“Kaya makatitiyak po tayo araw-araw, oras-oras, tinututukan po ng ating pamahalaan ang mga dapat na gawin para sa kapakanan ng mga mamamayan; para may bisita man o wala, naasikaso po natin at natugunan ang kanilang mahahalagang pangangailangan.”

Pope Francis announced recently that he is planning to visit the Philippines, especially the areas battered by Typhoon "Yolanda." PND (ag)

Cabinet members to meet Friday to finalize work programs for ‘Yolanda’-hit areas

Cabinet members will meet on Friday afternoon to finalize the work programs for the rehabilitation of areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda, a Palace official said.

Presidential Assistant on Rehabilitation and Recovery Secretary Panfilo Lacson will lead the four-hour meeting, which will be attended by Vice President Jejomar Binay (shelter sector); Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman (social services sector); Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson (infrastructure sector); Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo (livelihood sector); and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan (support sector), Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said Thursday.

“Isasapinal na at isasakongkreto ‘yung work program para sa mga sumusunod na lalawigan: Leyte, Eastern Samar, Western Samar, Cebu at siyudad ng Tacloban. Ito ‘yung pinag-usapan natin dati. Ang baseline nila ‘yung PDNA (Post-Disaster Needs Assessment),” Coloma said during a press briefing.

“Pag nakumpleto ‘yung PDNA, pwede nang gumawa ng kongkretong work program in each of the five aspects of shelter, livelihood, infrastructure, social services and support. They can already identify concrete programs and the corresponding budget. At pag nabuo ito, handang-handa nang i-release ng DBM (Department of Budget and Management) ‘yung budgetary support for implementing these projects,” he said. PND (ag)

Government working continuously to address concerns in education

As the new academic year opens next week, Malacanang has assured that it is doing everything to solve the various concerns in the education sector.

When the administration assumed office in 2010, it faced a backlog of 66,000 classrooms but the Department of Education (DepEd) has been able to construct 66,213 classrooms, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. told reporters on Thursday.

The DepEd also faced a shortage of 2.5 million chairs and tables but was able to remedy the problem, he said, adding that the department lacked 61.7 million textbooks but was able to reduce the average price of textbooks from P55 to P35.

Coloma however noted that although the DepEd was able to address these major problems, the country has suffered a setback due to the natural and man-made calamities last year, resulting in new problems for the education sector.

Nonetheless, the department has continued to address the problems, he said, adding that about two weeks ago, it spearheaded the Brigada Eskuwela, which was participated in by millions of citizens.

Brigada Eskwela is a nationwide voluntary effort, with teachers, parents and other members of the community offering their services to help clean and repair public schools in time for school opening.

"Siguro mas magandang pagyamanin natin dito ‘yung spirit of bayanihan at kilalanin din natin na kung tutunghayan ang empirical evidence, this administration has allocated more for the education budget than any other previous administration," he said.

He further said that President Aquino is leaving it to Education Secretary Armin Luistro to decide on the implementation of a three-day school week to ease the time and space constraints being experienced by the students.

Education officials have proposed a three-day school week to address congestions in schools and make students more comfortable. PND (as)