Thursday, 14 August 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, August 7, 2014

New Zealand envoy pays farewell call on President Aquino

Outgoing New Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines Reuben Levermore paid a farewell call on President Benigno S. Aquino III at the Music Room of Malacañang Palace on Thursday.

Levermore, who is ending his tour of duty to the country, was accompanied by officials of the New Zealand Embassy in Manila, namely deputy head of mission Justin Allen, and manager of the New Zealand Aid Programme Hannah Walton-France.

Also present were National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Laura del Rosario, and Foreign Affairs official Aileen Mendiola Rau.

Levermore has been ambassador to the Philippines since February 2012.

During his stint, he helped maintain multilateral ties between the Philippines and New Zealand.

In 1999, Levermore joined the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, where he gained experience in multilateral trade negotiations. He was also assigned to the New Zealand Mission to the European Union in Brussels and became Private Secretary for Trade Negotiations to New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser.

Levermore also worked in London as a financial markets advocate while on leave from the Ministry. PND (jb)

Government issues new policies to ease traffic woes in Metro Manila

Concerned government agencies met on Thursday and came up with policies to ease traffic congestions in Metro Manila.

Effective immediately, all “colorum” and out-of-line buses traversing EDSA and travelling in Metro Manila will be apprehended and fined, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a press briefing in Malacañang.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), in cooperation with the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), will also continue to study the routes of provincial and city buses in Metro Manila, Coloma said, adding that other matters discussed during the meeting will be consulted with Metro Manila mayors next week.

As for the port of Manila, Secretary Coloma said concerned government agencies and port users will impose new policies to normalize the traffic situation at the port by August 16.

“Nananawagan ang pamahalaan sa lahat ng port users na magsagawa ng regular na operasyon kahit na araw ng Linggo,upang higit na mapabilis ang paglalabas ng mga kargamento mula sa pantalan ng Maynila. Patuloy ang pakikipag-ugnayan sa mga lokal na pamahalaan upang maibsan ang suliranin ng congestion sa Port of Manila at sa mga lansangan,” he said.

He further said that trucks-for-hire still using green plates will be allowed to operate while applying for provisional authority (PA) with the LTFRB until August 15.

By August 16, trucks without provisional authority will be apprehended and fined, he said.

Meanwhile, trucks owned by private individuals or organizations for their own use may apply for exemption from the provisional authority requirement. The exemption will last three years and is renewable.

“For the next three months, the government shall give the exemption for free. Despite the issuance of a PA or exemption, green-plated trucks will continue to be covered by the existing truck ban and other traffic regulations,” he said.

Present during the meeting were Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Abaya, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, LTFRB Executive Director Roberto Cabrera, and Port Authority General Manager Juan Sta. Ana. PND (ag)

Doubts, speculations not helpful in crafting Bangsamoro Basic Law, says Palace official

The Palace on Thursday appealed to those sowing doubts and speculations to avoid actions that will not help bring lasting peace to Mindanao.

Reacting to questions on the hurdles faced by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in finding an acceptable draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said both sides remain determined to come up with a draft bill.

"Patuloy na sinisikap ng Philipppine at MILF panels na magkasundo sa isang draft Bangsamoro Basic Law," Coloma said during the daily press briefing in Malacañang.

He said government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer has declared that both the government and the MILF are determined to come up with an acceptable draft.

"Kaya dapat lang po siguro na iwasan iyong mga maliligalig na ispekulasyon hinggil diyan dahil patuloy pa rin naman po sa pagsisikap na makabuo nitong Bangsamoro Basic Law," he said.

Asked by reporters if there is a need to change the Constitution to accommodate the demands of the MILF, Coloma said both sides are working on finding a common ground and are not concentrating on areas that are unacceptable to both panels.

The government and the MILF last March signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which aims to end armed conflict in Mindanao.

A draft bill of the Bangsamoro Basic Law is currently being ironed out by both sides before it is submitted to Congress.

The Palace hopes that once the draft bill is passed and becomes a law, there would be enough time to hold a plebiscite and organize the Bangsamoro Transition Authority.

The Bangsamoro Transitional Authority will govern until the election of the first official leaders of the Bangsamoro political entity in 2016. PND (as)

President Aquino graces premiere of documentary on Jewish asylum seekers in the Philippines

President Benigno S. Aquino III attended the premiere screening of the documentary "Rescue in the Philippines: Refuge from the Holocaust", a film on Jews fleeing persecution in Nazi Germany during World War II.

In his message during the film screening in Malacañang on Thursday, the President said there are important lessons in the story of the Jewish escape to Manila.

First, it is the imperative of all men to take a stand against wrongdoing, and second, everyone must do his or her part to provide a new life, a better life, to all those who would be deprived of life, whether by tyranny or by poverty, he said.

"And last, that the measure of our humanity is our ability to give of ourselves, even, and perhaps most importantly, when it hurts," he said.

Thursday's event paid tribute to that time in Philippine history when the administration of Manuel L. Quezon took care and sheltered Jews fleeing Nazi persecution during World War II in Europe.

"We Filipinos, who once extended a helping hand to our Jewish brothers and sisters in the face of oppression, now receive the same, as we work to build back better and overcome emerging challenges in the wake of Haiyan," the President said.

The Chief Executive said he hopes that all those who watch the documentary, whether in classrooms and homes in the coming years, would continue to adopt the spirit of volunteerism to help their fellowmen.

He also extended his gratitude to the people behind the documentary, such as Russ Hodge, Cindy Scott, Dr. Barbara Sasser, and Peggy Ellis, and the rest of their team, as well as other Jewish organizations for helping the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda.

The people behind the film and Jewish organizations arranged for the donation of $2.5 million worth of prosthetics, as well as raised about $1.4 million for the typhoon victims.

"Rescue in the Philippines: Refuge from the Holocaust" is a one-hour documentary on how the Philippines became an asylum to some 1,300 Jews, who escaped Nazi tyranny during the Second World War.

The rescue was orchestrated in 1939 by then Philippine Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon, US High Commissioner Paul McNutt and US Army Col. Dwight Eisenhower. PND (as)