Monday, 18 August 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Saturday, August 16, 2014

President Aquino to inaugurate Ninoy Aquino bridge in Cagayan next week

President Benigno S. Aquino III will inaugurate on Monday a P600-million bridge connecting the provinces of Cagayan and Kalinga and Apayao, which is expected to boost economic activity in the area.

In an interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday, Secretary Manuel Mamba of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office said the bridge will be named Ninoy Aquino Bridge.

It is composed of a 360-meter bridge across the Chico River and also connected to two other bridges, the 40-meter Malumi bridge, and the 20-meter Agham bridge, Mamba said.

The project also has a road component, which has already been paved stretching about 22 kilometers, he added.

The project started in 2010 and was completed in 2013, according to Mamba.

The office of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile realigned his P195 million budget so some portions were left incomplete.

Local officials sought the help of the President, who partially funded the project releasing P145 million through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Aside from boosting the local economy and addressing insurgency, Mamba said the Ninoy Aquino Bridge will also permanently connect Cagayan with Kalinga and Apayao.

Even during heavy flooding, towns in these areas will remain connected to other parts of Luzon, he said.

Among the towns in Kalinga and Apayao that are expected to benefit from the project include Conner, Kabugao, Pinukpuk, Tuao, Rizal, and Piat, Mamba said.

There is also an ongoing road network project that will ultimately connect Solsona, Ilocos Norte with Conner and Kabugao, he added. The government is currently completing more than eight kilometers of road to connect the said areas.

"This will be a route connecting Cagayan to Ilocos Norte through the provinces of Kalinga and Apayao, an inter-regional link in the CAR (Cordillera Administrative Region), Region I, and Region II," Mamba explained.

"Kaya grabeng pakinabang ang nakukuha ng mga tao dito. At the same time, ina-anticipate ‘yung ekonomiya na talagang lalakas," he added. PND (as)

President Aquino wants safety assessment of Filipino peacekeepers in Liberia, Golan Heights

President Benigno S. Aquino III wants a detailed assessment of how safe Filipino peacekeepers are in Liberia and Golan Heights in the midst of security and health threats in those areas, a Palace official said.

It was reported that the Department of National Defense made a recommendation for the pullout of Filipino peacekeepers in Golan Heights and Liberia because of increasing tensions in the Middle East and the spread of Ebola virus in Africa.

"I had a chance to speak to the President about this lately and ang sabi we’re still trying to see what are the available protection for our soldiers who are there," Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday.

Valte said her impression is that the President has not made a decision yet whether to bring home the peacekeepers or retain them there.

But the Palace official said it is the President's paramount concern to ensure the safety of Filipino soldiers deployed overseas for peacekeeping missions.

Recently, a Filipino peacekeeper was injured while performing his duties in the Golan Heights because of deteriorating security conditions there.

In Africa, there are also concerns on the safety of peacekeepers as the Ebola virus continues to ravage several African countries such and Liberia and Sierra Leone, which already posted many casualties.

"Ang tinatanong din ng Pangulo, syempre, ayaw niyang malagay sa peligro ang ating mga sundalo. Maraming mga reported cases and deaths related to Ebola sa Liberia," Valte said.

"Gustong malaman ng Pangulo what available safeguards are in place."

The Department of Foreign Affairs is the one coordinating with the United Nations when there are certain concerns on the country's peacekeepers, she added. PND (as)