Monday, 28 July 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Friday, July 25, 2014

President Aquino renews commitment to bring peace to Mindanao

President Benigno S. Aquino III has renewed his enthusiasm to put into law the political commitments previously agreed upon in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, an official said on Friday.

The President met with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission on Thursday to resolve issues in the crafting of the Bangsamoro basic law.

"The President really gave time to meet with the Bangsamoro Transition Commission dahil in-express niya iyong kanyang fervent, genuine commitment, at lahat ng kanyang readiness na talagang maipatupad, na maisabatas... put into law ang mga political commitments in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro," Presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Quintos-Deles said in an interview following the signing of a memorandum of agreement on Executive Order 138 at the Palace.

The President intended to draw out all concerns in the crafting of the draft law, Deles said, adding that the panels have decided to convene again on Friday (July 25).

Thursday’s meeting was a major development as it gave both sides an opportunity to understand each other’s position, especially in threshing out the draft’s language, which remains unresolved, she said.

The problem is in the interpretation of how a political agreement is put into legal form, the Presidential adviser said.

She said the President suggested that each side walk in the other's shoes to resolve their differences.

"Maybe we can have a process na tinitingnan n'yo ang concerns namin at, on our part, we will look into your concerns so that we can find the fastest resolution on the issues that are not moving away or diluting political agreements that have already been signed, but are issues about what should now be put in the law," she said, quoting the President.

Some of the proposed revisions reflected the concerns of the President, Deles said.

The President has previously assured that a free election in the Bangsamoro will be held in 2016 to ensure lasting peace in Mindanao. PND (as)

Disbursement Acceleration Program will not affect President Aquino's legacy, says Palace official

The Palace has expressed confidence that the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) issue would not affect the President's legacy when he steps down from power in 2016.

"Confident naman po tayong makikita doon sa mga ginagawa ng Pangulo ang kanyang pagpupursige to leave this country in a better state in 2016," Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a press briefing in MalacaƱang on Friday.

Observers have said that some of the President's adversaries are using the DAP issue to discredit him and make light of his accomplishments.

Valte said many Filipinos more or less understand the program but the issue could not be discussed any further due to the motion for reconsideration that is pending with the Supreme Court.

"Hihintayin na lang po natin iyong magiging desisyon ng Korte Suprema at malinaw naman pong sinabi ng Pangulo na kung anuman iyon ay government will abide by it," she said.

In his recent speeches, the President said the people have benefited from the DAP through the implementation of different government projects, that even the Supreme Court has acknowledged that the program has helped the country economically. PND (as)

Government agencies sign agreement to implement law to protect children in armed conflict

Representatives of various government agencies on Friday signed the memorandum of agreement (MOA) to carry out Executive Order 138 on protecting the welfare of children involved in armed conflict.

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Presidential peace adviser Teresita Quintos-Deles, and Department of Education Undersecretary Albert Muyot were among those who signed the memorandum during a ceremony held at the Social Hall of Mabini Building in MalacaƱang Palace.

The signing of the MOA seeks the support of government agencies and other stakeholders to commit to their roles and responsibilities in the implementation of EO 138 on the monitoring, reporting and organization of a response system to prevent the abuse of children’s rights in situations of armed conflict.

Executive Order 138 "Amending Executive Order 56 Adopting the Comprehensive Program Framework for Children in Armed Conflict, Strengthening the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) and for Other Purposes" was signed by the President in August last year.

The Comprehensive Program Framework for Children in Armed Conflict directs government agencies and local government units to address the alarming involvement of children in armed conflict as combatants, couriers, guides, spies, medics, cooks or any similar non-combatant capacity.

The CWC, which serves as the focal interagency body for the government, will coordinate and lead the organization of the Monitoring, Reporting and Response System Team, composed of several government agencies, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Health (DOH), and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPPAP).

They are mandated to respond to concerns of children in situations of conflict, such as killing, maiming, recruitment and use of children, attacks on schools and health facilities, rape and other abuses.

The Inter-Agency Committee on Children in Armed Conflict, organized through a memorandum of agreement in April 2007, will be chaired by the CWC.

Its members are the Commission on Human Rights, Department of Education, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Health, Department of National Defense, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Department of Justice, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine National Police, Presidential Human Rights Committee, Presidential Management Staff, and Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process.

Republic Act 7610, also known as the "Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act", declares children as Zones of Peace and as such, they shall not be recruited to become members of the armed forces or its civilian units, or be used as fighters, couriers or spies.

From 2011 to 2013, the DSWD took care of 229 children who were victims of armed conflicts. Last February, local and foreign media reported that three child soldiers were among 53 people killed in a week-long fighting between the military and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. PND (as)