Wednesday, 23 July 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Friday, July 18, 2014

Philippines expresses sympathy to families of those on board crashed Malaysia Airlines

The Philippine government is extending its deep sympathies to the families of three Filipinos and other passengers on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 that crashed in Ukraine on Thursday night.

In a statement, Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said, “The Philippines joins the entire global community in expressing its deepest sympathies” to the families of the 298 people on board.

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The plane was carrying 298 people—comprising 283 passengers, including three infants, and 15 crew members.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed that three Filipinos were among the 298 people on board the flight.

Coloma said the government, through the DFA, would coordinate with the Ukrainian and Malaysian authorities in verifying the identities of the Filipinos aboard the flight.

“The Government is one with the international community in calling for a thorough and swift inquiry on this incident,” Secretary Coloma said.

“We offer our sincerest condolences to the families of all the victims, recognizing full well the enormity of their loss,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a separate statement.

“At this difficult time, we stand with them in solidarity as one people and one country,” she said, adding that the Philippines embassies in Malaysia and the Netherlands “are coordinating with Malaysia Airlines and other authorities, in order to secure more information regarding the tragedy to assist the affected families.” PND (co)

President Aquino to new Armed Forces Chief: Continue reforms in the military

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday led the change of command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at the military’s general headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo.

In his message during the event, the President commended outgoing chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista for his good stewardship of the AFP, and called on new chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, Jr., to continue ongoing reforms in the military.

"Kay Lt. Gen. Catapang: Ngayon ngang nagbago na ang mukha ng Sandatahang Lakas, nawa’y sagarin mo ang bawat pagkakataon sa iyong liderato upang lalo pang tumibay at lumakas ang ating institusyon, sa ngalan ng makabuluhang paglilingkod sa ating kapwa at bandila," the President said.

Gen. Catapang is highly qualified to lead the AFP, he said.

Catapang, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1981, has been assigned in Mindanao, and has led the 7th Infantry Division and the Northern Luzon Command of the Philippines Marines, before his appointment as AFP vice chief-of-staff.

The President described him as an “all-around” official of the armed forces, who is responsible, reliable, and has extensive knowledge in running the military.

"Kay Lt. Gen. Pio Catapang: Hindi naman sa pine-pressure kita, pero bilang bagong tagapagtimon ng AFP, hindi lamang 125,000 sundalo natin ang nakasalalay sa iyong pamumuno; maging ang 98 milyon nating mga Boss ay umaasa sa tapat mong pagseserbisyo," he said.

With less than two years in office, the present administration has done a lot in fixing the country's bureaucracy, President Aquino said.

The government, he noted, was able to go after corrupt officials and hold them accountable, expanded social services, strengthened the economy, and started the process to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao.

And while there are individuals who will continue to oppose change, the government will always prevail so long as it serves the interest of the people, he added.

"Ito ang napatunayan ng mga tapat na lingkod-bayan na tulad ni Gen. Bautista, at ito ang inaasahan nating itutuloy ni Gen. Catapang sa mga susunod na panahon," he said.

"Gaano man kahirap ang mga pagsubok na ating pinagdaanan sa nakalipas na apat na taon, ipinamalas ng ating mga pinuno, ng mga kawal ng bayan, na nasa parehong panig sila ng sambayanan." PND (as)

Government post awaits outgoing Armed Forces Chief Bautista

President Benigno S. Aquino III said Friday a government position is ready for Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, who has officially retired from his post as Armed Forces chief of staff.

In his speech during the change of command at the Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, President Aquino said Gen. Bautista will take a one-month vacation, then assume a government position.

Bautista, who will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56 on Sunday, was replaced by Lt. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, Jr. The two belong to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Dimalupig Class of 1981.

While President Aquino did not identify the post, he commended Bautista for his stint as AFP chief, citing his humility, diligence and expertise.

The President mentioned the difficulties Bautista had gone through, including the Sabah crisis, the Zamboanga siege, the kidnapping of peacekeepers in Golan Heights, the earthquake in Bohol and Cebu, and Typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas.

“He has been weighed so many times. His skills and dedication have been put to the test… No one could say that he did not succeed,” the Commander in Chief said.

During the event, President Aquino conferred on Bautista the Presidential Legion of Honor with the degree of Chief Commander for his valuable and meritorious service to the country. PND (jb)

Palace files motion for reconsideration at Supreme Court regarding DAP

MalacaƱang, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), filed on Friday afternoon a Motion for Reconsideration in connection with the decision of the Supreme Court on the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

In a note he released to the press, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said the motion contains a comprehensive argument regarding the government’s position on the DAP.

"In seeking reconsideration, the government affirms its respect of the rule of law and its compliance with judicial processes," he said.

In the motion, Solicitor General Francis H. Jardeleza asked the Supreme Court to reconsider parts of its July 1 decision that declared specific acts and practices under the program unconstitutional.

Through its legal team, led by Solicitor General Jardeleza and retired Supreme Court Justice Vicente Mendoza, the Palace asked the High Court to afford the DAP the presumption of constitutionality and good faith.

“The President and his alter egos, in implementing a decidedly successful program, deserve to be afforded the traditional constitutional presumptions that apply to most other forms of public actions, especially the presumption of good faith,” the Palace said.

In the 52-page Motion for Reconsideration, the Executive branch specifically asked the High Tribunal to declare that the withdrawn obligated allotments and unreleased appropriations under the DAP are savings; that cross-border transfers under the DAP are constitutional; and that the President augmented items with appropriation cover under the DAP.

It also asked the Supreme Court to consider that the use of the unprogrammed fund under the DAP complied with the conditions provided in the relevant General Appropriations Acts (GAAs); and that regardless of the nullification of certain acts and practices under the DAP and/or National Budget Circular No. 541, the operative fact doctrine does not operate to impute bad faith to authors, proponents and implementers who continue to enjoy the presumption of innocence and regularity in the performance of official functions and duties.

Apart from the presumption of constitutionality and good faith, the Executive department wanted the High Court to apply other “fundamental norms of constitutional litigation and basic fairness” in resolving the government’s appeal.

This includes the recognition of institutional competence and the value of bureaucratic practices, the understanding of the constitutional role of the Executive in managing the economy, the acknowledgment of the constitutional authority of Congress to define savings, the shared role of the political departments in preparing the budget and the constitutionally-designed minimal role of the Supreme Court on these matters.

In its motion, the Executive branch maintained that the use of savings and unused funds that were pooled under the disbursement mechanism was legal and within President Benigno S. Aquino III’s authority to augment funds or appropriation under Article VI, Section 25(5) of the Constitution.

It also said that the government, through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), headed by Secretary Florencio Abad, had “properly interpreted” relevant portions in the GAAs involving the legislative parameters for accumulating savings.

The Executive branch argued that mechanisms used to incur savings under the DAP had existed in one form or another throughout all administrations under the 1987 Constitution.

In the absence of any prohibition, “it is the essence of sound management to stop the flow of scarce resources from projects that are failing and not moving, and to reallocate them into projects that have higher chances of success,” the Palace said.

It further warned that if “we follow the Honorable Court’s interpretation, this would effectively deprive millions of Filipinos access to funds for reconstruction and rehabilitation.” PND (as)