Sunday, 13 July 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Wednesday, June 25, 2014

President Aquino weighs in on price hikes

(HIROSHIMA, Japan) President Benigno S. Aquino III has said he continues to mobilize concerned government agencies to come up with “definitive answers” as to what is causing the recent spike in the prices of various commodities, among them rice and garlic.

President Aquino told the Philippine media delegation on board a chartered flight from Tokyo to Hiroshima on Tuesday that a meeting has been scheduled, either this week or next week, to discuss this particular matter.

The President said he would like to find out whether the effects of typhoons ‘Yolanda’ and ‘Santi’ last year, as well as the country’s territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea have factored in the reported shortage on rice and other commodities.

“Ano ba ang epekto talaga ‘non? Nagka-delay ba, et cetera… ‘Yung laban natin—laban sa Spratlys—ay nagpapataas ba ng presyo? We need definitive answers,” President Aquino told reporters.

“There will be a meeting, perhaps this week—if not, at the latest by next week—che-check-in rin ‘yung (presyo), especially rice, pati na rin sa garlic to determine exactly what is causing this price spike or price spikes.”

In the interim, President Aquino said the country has imported 800,000 metric tons of rice, given the expected shortfall during the lean months of June and July, and 12,000 of that figure already came in.

He had also tasked the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) about a month or two ago to check whether it is possible to use satellite imagery to determine arable lands devoted to planting rice and their tonnage per hectare capacity to get a real and accurate picture of the rice supply situation.

The National Food Authority (NFA) has already doubled its normal supply of rice to ensure that there is adequate stock in the market to avoid panic buying among consumers, as this might further induce price increases.

President Aquino said he was informed that only the well-milled rice showed very significant spike in prices and not the low-end ones, thus, it is not accurate to say that a vast majority has been affected by this situation.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. earlier reported that the prices of regular milled and well-milled rice of the NFA remain at 27 pesos and 32 pesos per kilogram respectively, while the prices of premium or commercial well-milled rice range from 40 pesos to 50 pesos per kilo.

Coloma has also given repeated assurances that the government will not let any irregularity over the supply and price of basic commodities to continue and will go after those who are behind it. PND (hdc)

Reforms ongoing in police, military to ensure public safety, says Aquino

(HIROSHIMA, Japan) President Benigno S. Aquino III said reforms are being made in the country's law enforcement system, as well as in the military to ensure public security.

In an interview with members of the Philippine media on Tuesday, the President said that while there are concerns on the way the police do their jobs, they also have many achievements.

One of the reforms in the police force is increasing the number of policemen patrolling the streets, he said.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) is training 15,000 policemen who were previously tied up with clerical work especially in Camp Crame. Office work will be taken over by civilian employees, he said.

The government is also working to fix problems in the pension of the police and the military because this is a major stumbling block in hiring of more policemen and soldiers, he said.

One of the laws on pension reforms is now in Congress, he noted.

The President emphasized the need to increase the number of policemen and soldiers, saying that the figure has remained at 250,000 since the 1986 EDSA People Power revolution.

To make communities safer, the ideal policeman to civilian ratio is 1 to 500, he said.

There is also massive funding for both the police and the military, which is called “shoot, scoot, and communicate,” he said, adding that the government is investing on transportation— motorcycles, vans and trucks— as well as communication systems for both the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the PNP for them to be more effective.

The police is also regularly conducting checkpoints and stepping up their operations against unlicensed firearms, he said.

The Chief Executive further reported developments in recent sensational killings. He said several arrests have been made in connection with the murders of Pangasinan Mayor Ernesto Balolong and hotel owner Richard King.

The police is also pursuing a number of leads in the murder of car racer Ferdinand Pastor, he said. PND (as)

President Aquino pays respect to victims of wartime Japan

(HIROSHIMA, Japan) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Tuesday paid his respects to the Japanese victims of World War II at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, referred to by the locals as the Atomic Bomb Dome.

The President’s trip to the historic site served as his last stop during his one-day working visit to Japan. He was welcomed by Hiroshima City Mayor Kazumi Matsui and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum director Kenji Shiga.

Hiroshima was one of two Japanese cities destroyed when allied forces led by the United States dropped atomic bombs during the final stages of World War II in 1945.

Reflecting on that dark chapter in the world history, President Aquino said in his speech at the Consolidation for Peace for Mindanao Conference, “The tragedy that was the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, seven decades later, only reminds us of the futile results of conflict, and impress upon us the collective responsibility we hold in defending the rights of our respective peoples to live not only without fear, but to live in a world where peace is a shared reality by all nations.”

President Aquino offered a floral wreath and silent prayers at the Memorial Cenotaph, which was built in honor of the hundreds of thousands of people who were directly and indirectly killed by the explosion.

The President was then guided to a tour of the museum. He was given a copy of the Peace Declaration by Mayor Matsui before he signed the Museum Guestbook, signaling the end of the tour.

President Aquino left Hiroshima later than expected at about 8:45 p.m. and arrived in Manila at around midnight. PND (hdc)

President Aquino returns home after fruitful Japan trip

(HIROSHIMA, Japan) President Benigno S. Aquino III returned to Manila Tuesday night following his one-day working visit to Japan, where he met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, addressed a peace seminar and visited a memorial for wartime victims in Hiroshima.

During their meeting, President Aquino and Prime Minister Abe exchanged views on current developments in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) and the East China Sea.

The President said the Philippines wants to advance the defense and security dialogue with Japan to boost its cooperation with its closest Asian strategic ally.

He noted that the agreement with Japan will not necessarily be similar to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States, but it will address the Philippines’ needs during emergencies.

On the West Philippine Sea issue, the President told his Japanese counterpart about the Philippines' move to push for the strict observance of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, to which claimant countries and China agreed in 2002.

He expressed hope that the ASEAN and China immediately agree on a binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

After the summit meeting, President Aquino proceeded to Hiroshima to address the Consolidation for Peace for Mindanao Conference, where he renewed his commitment to bring lasting peace to Southern Philippines after the signing of an accord with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front last March.

He said his administration will work hard to ensure an orderly and democratic election in Mindanao in 2016.

At the same time, he thanked the countries and organizations that helped the Philippine government and the MILF agree on a peace pact. He expressed his gratitude to the US, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Norway, Libya, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, and the European Union.

He also thanked the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for its continuing efforts for development and stability in Mindanao.

After the conference, the President led a wreath-laying ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park to remember the victims of the nuclear attack in Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

The President and his delegation left Hiroshima at about 8:45 p.m. and arrived in Manila at midnight. PND (as)

President Aquino returns from Japan visit with ‘positive results’

President Benigno S. Aquino III has returned from his one-day working visit to Japan with “positive results”.

“Tunay po. Talagang napakasarap na makipagpulong sa ating mga strategic partners. Kitang-kita nga po natin ang positibong bunga ng ating pakikipag-ugnayan sa kanila,” President Aquino said in a speech delivered shortly after he arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 at 12:09 a.m. early Wednesday.

He reported that Japan is planning to open its doors to foreign domestic workers, nurses and caregivers, as well as offer apprenticeship programs to foreigners.

The Chief Executive also took the opportunity to personally thank Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the “visa relaxation” for Filipinos who would want to visit Japan.

“Ang resulta po nito: mas malakas na ugnayang bumubukal sa pagkakaunawaan at hangaring buksan ang mas maraming pinto ng oportunidad para sa kapwa Pilipino at Hapon, sa pamamagitan ng turismo,” he said.

He said that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is studying Metro Manila’s transportation system for the possibility of constructing a subway system.

Japan plans to invest in the Philippines’ manufacturing and banking sectors, he added.

President Aquino further said his Japanese counterpart has expressed support for the Philippine initiative to resolve its disputes in a peaceful manner and in accordance with international laws.

“Ang hangad po natin: humupa ang mga tensyon sa makatwiran at komprehensibong pamamaraan sa tatlong antas—immediate, intermediate, at final approaches. Ito po ang nilatag ng ating bansa,” he said.

“Sa immediate na antas, isinusulong natin ang moratorium sa mga gawaing direktang nagdudulot ng tensyon. Sa intermediate naman, muli nating inilalatag ang panawagan para sa buong pagpapatupad ng ASEAN-China Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, or DOC, at ang agarang pagbubuo ng isang binding Code of Conduct, o isang binding COC. Sa final approach naman, naniniwala tayong bibigyang-linaw ng arbitration ang maritime entitlements ng lahat ng partido, na siya namang magiging matibay na basehan para maresolbahan ang maritime disputes para sa kapakanan ng lahat,” he explained.

The President was welcomed by members of his Cabinet and other government officials, among them Transportation and Communication Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., and Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino. PND (ag)