Wednesday, 24 September 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

President Aquino calls for more aggressive global effort to address climate change

(NEW YORK, New York) President Benigno S. Aquino III called for a global coordinated effort to address climate change noting that with the changing climate, both big and small nations become vulnerable to its ill effects.

"The choice before us, then, is clear: Together we must face these challenges and surmount them, or together we will suffer the consequences of inaction," the President said in his speech at the United Nations Climate Change Summit on Tuesday at the UN headquarters here.

Nations should not engage in another protracted debate over the individual commitments of countries, he said adding it would be a wrong framework to address the issue.

"Instead, everyone here has to do everything they can to address climate change, without first waiting for their neighbors to engage in action," he said. "Doing anything less leaves the problem unattended, too, thereby increasing the problem we all face."

Although not a major emitter, the Philippines is not waiting for other nations to act first, he said.

The country has been addressing climate change to the maximum with its limited resources. Legislation has been enacted to lessen the impact of disasters by adopting a comprehensive approach to disaster response, the President said.

The government has also improved its weather forecasting so that it could send timely warnings to vulnerable communities.

For national and local authorities and residents, the government has undertaken multi-hazard and geohazard mapping, which is integral to the effective assessment of risks, according to the President.

It is also carrying out a massive national re-greening program and intensified the crackdown on anti-illegal logging activities.

At the same time, the government also started tagging public expenditure on climate change to ensure that the appropriate prioritization and allocation of funds is achieved, he said.

To reduce the impact of disasters on the poorest and most vulnerable Filipinos, the government engaged other stakeholders in developing a disaster risk financing and insurance policy framework.

"Perhaps the international community may see the value of such an instrument, and look at it as a model to increase the financial resiliency of other nations in a similar situation to ours," the President said.

The Philippines also has to continue to take steps to maintain and even improve the country's low-emission development strategy and the trajectory of its energy mix, the President noted.

"And we are hopeful that our fellow developing nations, especially those who have been gaining the economic wherewithal to pursue similar strategies, will tread a path akin to ours," he added.

Although less industrialized, the Philippines never lacked the resolve with regards to transitioning towards less traditional sources of energy, the President said.

What is lacking is the country's access to technology, financing, and investment that would allow it to accelerate its strategy, the President noted, believing however that the real challenge is to innovate in the transfer of useful technology and the building of climate-smart infrastructure.

Climate change does not recognize national boundaries, or political or economic affiliations, according to the President. The chief executive cited the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda that hit the country last year. PND (as)

President Aquino urges U.S. business groups to explore investment opportunities in the Philippines

(NEW YORK, New York) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Tuesday urged prospective investors here to take advantage of new business opportunities the Philippines is ready to offer in light of its improved economy and especially since it is poised to hit the so called ‘demographic sweet spot’ by next year.

“According to the projections of the United Nations, the majority of our people will reach working age next year, which means that there will be an abundance of talent and creativity in the workforce, ready to spur your businesses to success,” President Aquino told a business roundtable with chief executive officers and other senior officials from the US Chamber of Commerce and the US-ASEAN Business Council here.

"It is indeed my hope that all of you have come here with the determination to build on your success in the Philippines or to explore new avenues in pursuit of the same."

President Aquino relayed to business executives all the good news about the Philippines recently, including the consecutive upgrades it received from major credit rating agencies, and its improved ranking in the World Economic Forum’s 2013-2014 Global Competitiveness Report.

This is on top of the key industries that continue to grow particularly the Information Technology-Business Process Management, which, according to the President, remains one of the strongest sectors, recording a 6.6-billion dollar increase in revenues from 8.9-billion dollars in 2010, to 15.5-billion dollars in 2013.

“Manufacturing has completely rebounded with growth accelerating from 5.4 percent in 2012 to 10.3 percent in 2013. This is not to mention the other sectors worthy of note, including tourism, agriculture, and infrastructure,” he added.

President Aquino attributed all these positive developments to good governance and better fiscal management his administration consistently practiced the past four years, assuring all potential investors the reforms they have implemented will continue.

“Our commitment to institute good governance and fight corruption has not flagged. We continue to implement reforms in order to ensure a significant return on each peso we spend for government’s programs and projects. Massive investments into social services continue, so that Filipinos are empowered to become active participants in building our economy, and the nation, as well,” he said. PND (hdc)

Filipinos will always emerge strong despite challenges, says President Aquino

(NEW YORK, New York) President Benigno S. Aquino III said he believes Filipinos will continue to overcome any adversity, given their extraordinary spirit.

In his speech during the Columbia University World Leaders Forum here, President Aquino said challenges will continue to come, but Filipinos will continue to rise and emerge better.

When confronted with disaster, the current government’s mindset is not just on rebuilding but how to build back better, he said.

And as reforms begin to be realized, the President said his administration is thinking how to make these changes permanent.

"My entire life, I have witnessed my people do incredible things: they resisted the dictatorship, drove a peaceful revolution that captured the imagination of the world, stood firmly and often against tyranny and corruption whenever they reared their ugly heads, and worked tirelessly to put our country back on the map," he told the students and faculty of the university.

He noted that for so long, Filipinos have endured the tyranny of self-serving administrations and the indifference of the world, but the country, once an often-overlooked archipelago in the Pacific, is poised to remain in the global spotlight.

This is proof of what a mobilized citizenry and a government of integrity are capable of achieving, he said.

The President cited the reforms initiated by his administration, including those in fighting corruption, improving the education system and health care, and the Mindanao peace process.

He also reported on the economic developments in the country, the positive credit ratings upgrades given to the Philippines, and the government's initiatives for better weather forecasting.

Established in 2003 by Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger, the World Leaders Forum is a year-round event series that seeks to advance robust, uninhibited dialogue on the significant economic, political, and social questions of the present time.

The forum has already featured former presidents Bill Clinton of the United States, Mary Robinson of Ireland, and Nicolas Sarkozy of France, as well as the Dalai Lama. PND (as)

President Aquino: Government determined to address extrajudicial killings

(NEW YORK, New York) President Benigno S. Aquino III has expressed his administration’s seriousness in addressing extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

The government is not after merely identifying the assailants but focuses on convicting the murderers, President Aquino told students and faculty during the Columbia University World Leaders Forum here Tuesday.

"There has to be certainty of punishment for all of these things that happened. And they (Department of Justice) have, in turn, secured quite a number of convictions for those involved in extralegal killings," he said.

He further said that the government is making efforts to train Filipino policemen to improve their forensic capabilities, refine the witness protection program, and hold government officials accountable for the protection of the rights of every citizen.

The problem is the very lengthy process in litigating cases under the Philippine judicial system, the President said, citing as an example the Maguindanao massacre, where more than 100 suspects have to be investigated and arraigned in court.

The government does not want to perform quick justice because it would be accused of violating the rights of the suspects, he added.

But the main point is that a killing is a killing and it is a violation of the law, he said, emphasizing that regardless of who did it and why he did it, there has to be penalties under the law.

President Aquino acknowledged that despite some drawbacks, the government has also scored several successes in terms of convictions and it will continue to strive for equal justice to everyone. PND (as)

President Aquino optimistic on passage of draft Bangsamoro Basic Law

(NEW YORK, New York) President Aquino has expressed confidence that the bill on the Bangsamoro would be passed, saying that any politician who fails to support the legislation would suffer in the ballot box come election time.

During the Columbia University World Leaders Forum here Tuesday, the President was asked what would happen if legislators refuse to support his peace initiatives in Mindanao.

He said it would be a serious setback if Congress does not approve the bill.

He however noted that anyone who would oppose the proposal would lose popularity among the voters.

There will be grandstanding, he said, but at the end of the day, those who would oppose it would be labeled as anti-peace.

"I don’t think any politician would want to be labeled as anti-peace, specifically in that portion of the country, which has had the misfortune of having this long-running insurgency dating from the late 1960s, which has claimed so many lives," he said.
The President further expressed hope that government resources devoted to the Bangsamoro under his administration would improve the living conditions of the people in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in March this year.

Prior to the President's European and US trips, he forwarded the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law to Congress for deliberation.

The President has vowed to push for the conduct of a fair and democratic election in Mindanao in 2016, once the bill is approved by Congress and becomes a law. PND (as)

Philippines hopeful of international tribunal's resolution on West Philippine Sea

(NEW YORK, New York) President Benigno S. Aquino III said he expects the international arbitral tribunal to issue a resolution on the country's claim in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) to achieve regional stability and prosperity.

A ruling from the tribunal will create an environment that could bring about prosperity for all and in the region, the President told students and faculty who attended the Columbia University World Leaders Forum here Tuesday.

"It is difficult to give up sovereignty by any state," President Aquino said. "That is why we have brought the case before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea precisely to determine whose definitions and interpretations of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea are correct."

Perhaps, the Philippines is not totally wrong, or the country is not totally correct and maybe it is the same case with the other side, he said.

"At the end of the day, when there is a clear understanding accepted by all parties, then the tension should be managed better than it is now, where everything is so undefined and subject to so many conflicting claims that are, in a sense, irreconcilable with each other," he noted.

He however said that although there are conflicting claims in the West Philippine Sea, the issue is not the totality of the relations between the Philippines and China.

In fact, the President said, when he visited China in 2011, then Chinese President Hu Jintao also stated that this should not be the basis for the overall relations between the two countries.

This is true until now, he said, adding that in 2011, investments by Philippine companies in China were estimated at $2.5 billion, while investments by Chinese companies in the Philippines amounted to about $600 million.

In terms of tourism, Chinese tourists visiting the Philippines number about 200,000 every year, while Filipinos going to China reach 800,000 tourists annually.

“There is really room for prosperity for both and a natural affinity in a sense for both," President Aquino said, adding that it is his obligation under the Constitution to defend the country's rights and sovereignty. PND (as)

Nearly 20 American companies looking to invest in the Philippines

(NEW YORK, New York) Close to 20 American companies have expressed interest in investing or expanding to the Philippines as a result of President Benigno S. Aquino III's trip to the United States.

In a media interview here Tuesday, President Aquino mentioned the number of companies that are planning to do business in the Philippines but did not name them out of concern it might violate their securities and exchange code.

The President mentioned a company with investment in one location and employs 600,000 workers.

"Nagbabalak siyang itayo ang something similar sa Pilipinas. Naghahanap ng mga partner niya na makakatulong sa pagtatayo nga nitong production facility para sa kanyang mga produkto," the President said.

The company, worth several billions of dollars, appears to be an industry leader, he said.

He said that when he goes to San Francisco on Wednesday, he will meet with two other companies that want to put their money in the Philippines.

San Francisco will be the President's last stop in his five-day visit to the US before returning to Manila on Wednesday. PND (as)

President Aquino untroubled by hecklers

(NEW YORK, New York) President Benigno S. Aquino III said the hecklers who appeared in separate forums he recently attended did not bother him at all, since people like them are always found in a democratic society.

President Aquino even indicated that he is open to having a dialogue with them, provided they keep an open mind so they could arrive at an understanding.

“Sa lahat ng usapan, may ‘thesis’, ‘yon namang kontra doon, may ‘antithesis’, baka ‘pag nag-usap kayo magkaroon ng ‘synthesis’ at ako naniniwala ako doon,” he told members of the Philippine media in an interview held Tuesday evening at the Omni Berkshire Place here.

Unidentified individuals rudely interrupted President Aquino while he was in the middle of answering legitimate questions from students during the World Leaders Forum at the Columbia University.

The President dealt with a similar incident at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government last Monday, when a man tried to engage him in a debate regarding the administration’s purchase of weapons.

“Sanay naman tayo doon. In the guise of magtatanong, magtatalumpati… Ngayon, kung sana mayroon talagang tanong, maganda sanang sagutin. Siyempre, ang pangangailangan noon, pareho kayong bukas ang kaisipan para may diyalogo kayong mapapala,” he said.

He added that these relatively inconsequential matters are not enough to make him upset.

“Maski ano naman ang sabihin doon, ‘di ba, meron din naman silang sasabihin tungkol doon. Sa akin lang, tuloy akong magtatrabaho. Hinaharap ko ang sarili ko sa salamin bago ako matulog nagawa ko na lahat ng magagawa ko. Dapat naman may konting kakuntentohan lang doon, tapos kinabukasan kayod ulit,” the President said. PND (hdc)

Palace clarifies President Aquino’s affiliation with new Clark Airport chief

Malacañang on Wednesday clarified that newly appointed president and chief executive officer of the Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) Emigdio Tanjuatco III is President Benigno S. Aquino III’s sixth-degree cousin.

“He (Tanjuatco) is beyond the fourth degree of consanguinity, sixth (degree) na siya, ang layo na. Ang prohibition ng batas is until fourth degree of consanguinity… sixth degree na siya, so walang prohibition doon,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters during the daily press briefing at the Palace.

Lacierda was reacting to reports that the President had committed nepotism when he appointed Tanjuatco.

“I disagree with that… I was hearing about lack of aviation experience. Just for the record, the CIAC does not determine aviation policy. It is the CAAP (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines) that determines aviation policies and regulations,” he said, adding that Tanjuatco is a lawyer and has corporate experience.

Tanjuatco’s appointment letter was signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr. last August 27. He will serve as president and CEO, as well as member of CIAC’s Board of Directors until June 30, 2015.

He replaced Victor Jose Luciano, who was appointed as member of the Civil Aeronautics Board under the Department of Transportation and Communications. PND (ag)

Marcos' Libingan ng mga Bayani burial must be justified, says President Aquino

(NEW YORK, New York) President Benigno S. Aquino III said he won't support moves to bury former strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani because he can't justify to the people the reason why the dictator should be rested there.

Asked by reporters in a media interview here on Tuesday, the President said, "Siguro, ganito na lang ang sagot ko: Kung bibigyan ako ng authority, hindi ako magvo-volunteer na sumagot bakit dapat ilibing doon, wala sa kakayahan kong ipaliwanag sa taumbayan kung bakit dapat siyang bigyan ng ganoong karangalan."

There will be questions on legitimacy if Marcos is buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani since Marcos usurped his authority.

He said Marcos should have stepped down in 1973 after serving two terms but he instead declared Martial law in September 1972 to prolong his stay in power.

Marcos' stay in Malacañang after 1973 is no longer legitimate under the laws during that time, he said, when Marcos extended his term in office for around 13 years until he was ousted in 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.

"Kaya ang tanong: Kung may karapatan siya bilang pangulong lehitimo, hindi ba natabunan noong pagiging pangulo niya na hindi na lehitimo, itong 13 years?" the President asked.

"Kasi ang Libingan ng mga Bayani isang karangalan para sa mga dating talagang naglingkod sa bayan," he stressed.

There are also questions on the war merits of Marcos, he said. Marcos claimed he received recognitions for being a war hero during World War II, but some question the authenticity of the medals he received.

The Libingan ng mga Bayani is a symbol of gallantry and selfless dedication to serve the country and anybody being buried there should not be questioned on their right to be rested there, according to the President.

The Aquino family was a victim of Marcos' martial rule, compelling it to live in exile in Boston, Massachusetts from 1980 to 1983.

Former senator Benigno Aquino Jr, the President's father, was assassinated after arriving in the Philippines on August 21, 1983. Aquino's death however culminated in mass protest actions that eventually brought down the Marcos dictatorship. PND (as)

President Aquino opts to wait for details before rendering judgment on embattled PNP chief

(NEW YORK, New York) President Benigno S. Aquino III opted not to prejudge embattled Philippine National Police (PNP) chief director general Alan Purisima and would rather wait for details of the complaints filed against him so he could render an accurate judgment.

In an interview with members of the Philippine media delegation at the Omni Berkshire Place Tuesday evening, President Aquino also mentioned that Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas is capable of handling the issue.

“I would like to see the details so that we can render an accurate judgment… But the PNP is in the capable hands of Secretary (Mar) Roxas and I’m sure he’ll get to the bottom of this,” he said.

Purisima is currently embroiled in graft and corruption charges following a complaint from a consumer rights group questioning his alleged unexplained wealth.

On a personal note, however, President Aquino told reporters he knew Purisima as someone who would not indulge himself over luxurious things given all the hardships he had been through in the past.

The two have known each other since 1987 when the PNP chief became part of the Presidential Security Group during the administration of President Aquino’s mother.

“Sa pagkakakillala ko kay Alan talagang… Alam niyo, for instance, kadete pa lang siya nabiktima siya ng hazing. At ang pagkabiktima (sa kanya), muntik na siyang mamatay actually,” President Aquino said.

“Pwede naman siyang, ‘di ba, maghinagpis doon sa mga gumawa sa kanya nito. Pero ‘nung nakilala ko siya in the ’87—or probably in ’86 pero ’87 ko talaga siya nakilala nang masinsinan—and from that time to the present, hindi ko nakita itong taong ito na maluho, o matakaw,” he added. PND (hdc)

President Aquino reminisces beautiful memories with his father during Boston visit

(NEW YORK, New York) President Benigno S. Aquino III reminisced about the beautiful memories he had with his father, the late Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., during his short visit at their humble home while he was in Boston.

Boston was President Aquino’s first stop in his five-day US trip, which began Saturday (September 20). He had business meetings there and held speaking engagements at Boston College and Harvard University.

President Aquino admitted becoming nostalgic the moment he stepped inside the house at 175 Commonwealth Avenue in Chestnut Hill after 31 years. It is where he and his family stayed while in exile from 1980-1983.

“It’s the first time I have gone back to Boston since my father’s assassination. Nakadalaw tayo doon sa bahay na tinuluyan namin dati… Aaminin ko sa inyo, ‘nung pagpasok ko sa bawat parte, parang mavi-visualize mo ano ba ang ginagawa ninyo dito (noon),” President Aquino told the Philippine media delegation with him Tuesday evening.

President Aquino recalled the fond memories he had with his father, including the first time he tried to build a snowman, which the elder Aquino decorated using personal belongings during the dead of winter.

“‘Yung snowman ko malnourished… Ewan ko kung marunong kayo gumawa ng snowman pero nagmarunong na lang ako. Dumating ‘yung tatay ko, nakita niya snow lang e, so kumuha siya ng dahon; nilagyan ng mata; nilagyan ng bunganga. May nagregalo sa kanya ng scarf na hindi niya masyadong type, isinuot niya kay snowman,” he told reporters.

President Aquino said it was ‘nice’ to remember all those times, though it was also filled with pain and sadness, recalling the day he learned about the news of his father’s assassination.

The hardships that he and his family had been through during the brutal years of Martial Law became a running theme in all of President Aquino’s speeches for the students of Boston College, Harvard University, and Columbia University.

“It’s nice to remember all those times dahil tayo nga ay may kasabihan: Para makarating sa paroroonan, kailangan lumingon sa pinanggalingan. Ito ang isa sa mga punto kung saan ako nahubog,” he said. PND (hdc)

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

President Aquino meets US Rep. Joseph Kennedy III

(BOSTON, Massachusetts) President Benigno S. Aquino III met on Monday morning (Boston time) with United States Rep. Joseph Kennedy III at Bill’s Pizzeria in Newton.

Kennedy, who recently visited the Philippines, invited the President for a meeting if he travels to Massachusetts.

Kennedy is the grandson of the late US Sen. Robert Kennedy and grandnephew of US President John F. Kennedy.

The President's 30-minute meeting with Kennedy will be followed by business meetings with several American companies Monday afternoon based on his official schedule.

After that, the President will give a speech at Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Aside from meeting Kennedy, the President visited their former home here in Massachusetts located at 175 Commonwealth Ave. in Newton. The house is now owned by American Ione Malloy.

The Aquino family stayed at the residence starting 1980 to 1983 while former senator Benigno Aquino Jr, the President's father, was in exile during the Marcos dictatorship.

In his speech at Boston College on Sunday, the President recalled his fond memories in their house in Newton such his first winter in Massachusetts.

The President is expected to go to New York Monday evening after delivering his message at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. PND (as)

Government empowering people through education, better health care, says President Aquino

(CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts) The ultimate goal of the government is to empower the people through education, and better health care and social services so that they would enjoy equal opportunities, President Benigno S. Aquino III said at the Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government here Monday.

"The budget for most of our social services had been increased in multiples from the time we started in 2010," the President told students during a question-and-answer session after delivering a policy speech to discuss the present situation in the Philippines and the reform measures being undertaken by his administration.

"The Department of Health, for instance, has had something like a three-fold increase of their budget from the 2010 levels, precisely to shield our population from catastrophic illnesses that will devastate them," he added.

In terms of providing good education to the marginalized members of society, he said there is an alternative learning system that caters to the needs of migrant communities.

Teachers are embedded in these communities so that education is not stifled and could continue in those areas, he said.

Regarding the out-of-school youth, the President said the government is carrying out the Conditional Cash Transfer Program to ensure that young people stay in school.

"The Conditional Cash Transfer Program’s principal condition is that children should be kept in school, not just on the elementary level, but also on the secondary level. We have expanded the program this year to cover the secondary level," he explained.

He further said that the technical vocational sector of the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA) gives young people skills that would land them good jobs in the job market, even if they merely completed high school.

The government tries to provide incentives to out-of-school youths to motivate them to continue their schooling, President Aquino said. PND (as)

President Aquino: West Philippine Sea claimants must adhere to rule of law

(CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts) President Benigno S. Aquino III, in a policy speech he delivered here Monday, underscored the importance of following the rule of law in resolving the dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The question the Philippines is facing is whether the consensus of the international community, as embodied by laws such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) would be upheld in resolving these claims, President Aquino told students of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

All signatories to the UNCLOS have bound themselves to the equitable delineation of maritime entitlements, he said, adding that this UN convention grants countries equal rights as well as obligations.

"As a founding member of the United Nations, we believe that its covenants, such as UNCLOS, and institutions, such as its International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, provide the most rational, just, and respectful mechanism for countries to find harmony, despite their differences," he noted.

Based on this principle, he said, the Philippine government drafted two tracks of action in addressing the dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

First, by continuously calling for the formulation of a binding code of conduct for the South China Sea, and second, through arbitration to clarify the maritime entitlements for all countries concerned.

"International law allows for a dignified and sustainable resolution to competing claims, as demonstrated by the recently concluded Bay of Bengal Maritime Boundary Arbitration," President Aquino said.

The Philippines is one of the claimant countries in the West Philippines Sea. Other countries with competing claims include China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, and Malaysia.

This year, the Philippines filed a memorial before the International Arbitral Tribunal to strengthen its case.

China, which has refused to participate in the arbitration, has been given until December 15 this year to submit a similar memorial to the international tribunal. PND (as)

President Aquino: It is not time to discuss politics

(CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts) President Benigno S. Aquino III said it is not time to talk about politics and that he would rather focus on addressing the needs of his people rather than think about the 2016 presidential elections.

"I still have about a year and nine months to go," the President said during a question-and-answer session after delivering a policy speech at the John F. Kennedy School of Government in Harvard University here Monday.

"If we are all concentrated just on the next elections rather than doing the things that we have to do now, we shouldn’t allow the distraction of the election to interfere with our obligations to our people," he said.

He noted that since he left Manila for an official tour of Europe and the United States, two typhoons have struck the country and Mayon Volcano has become restive.

“I think those have to be attended rather than jockeying for position in 2016," he pointed out.

The President also fended off criticisms hurled against his allies, saying that if his critics think his allies are dishonest and corrupt, they could charge them in court.

The Ombudsman in particular is ready to investigate complaints, even those coming from anonymous individuals, he said.

On naming a successor, the President said he believes there are a lot of individuals in the country qualified to become president.

He however indicated that he is not ready at this time to announce the candidate he will support in the country's next presidential polls. PND (as)

Young leaders would hopefully learn from the Philippines' transformation, President Aquino says

(CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday expressed hope that students of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government would learn from the transformation of the Philippines realized through good governance.

Delivering a policy speech at the school, President Aquino said he is determined to make the most of his six-year term that ends in 2016.

"Our challenge today is to make the gains even greater, and to ensure that the transformation becomes an enduring mainstream of justice and inclusiveness," he said.

"It is my hope that our experiences will motivate those like you, from the other side of the world, to be influencers, who in turn will inspire the communities and institutions with whom you will interact."

He emphasized that though leaders will be criticized for what they did, for what they did not do, and even for what they are about to do, they must always do the right thing.

They should persevere because giving up would mean allowing the shameless and the unscrupulous to have free reign over the fate of everyone, he said.

The President also mentioned the men and women in his government who came from the JFK School of Government: Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francisco Pangilinan, and Presidential Management Staff Secretary Julia Abad.

Chief Executive Officer of the Bases Conversion Development Authority Arnel Casanova, as well as the late interior and local government secretary Jesse Robredo were also fellows of the prestigious school. PND (as)

Authoritarianism does not solve a country's problems, says President Aquino

(CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts) Dictatorship is not the solution to a country's problems, President Benigno S. Aquino III said during a discussion with students of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government here Monday.

President Aquino was responding to an Indonesian student, who asked him about his views on authoritarianism.

The President said Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is a close friend, who advises him when he is confronted with complicated problems.

Indonesia serves as a role model for him, he said, adding that this is because Indonesia’s population is larger than that of the Philippines.

"Having said that, a dictatorship can never be a good solution. The person, no matter how good, good-intentioned, how thoroughly prepared, will have an absence of a check and balance; and, again, man is an imperfect being so his good will happen right away and his bad will be exacerbated," he said.

The President's father, former senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., defied the Marcos dictatorship and it cost him his life.

He also recounted the healing process that the nation has been undergoing after the dark years of martial rule, especially the granting of compensation to victims of human rights abuses.

The country's lawmakers have passed the Human Rights Compensation Bill, in which the state recognizes its obligation to nurture and protect its citizens, the President said.

"And after that, there is an award for recognition of the same, so that there is compensation for what was inflicted upon our people," he said, adding this state recognition also puts on record individual accounts of what rights were violated during the dark days of Martial Law.

"The end point being, we learn the lessons so that we do not have a situation that repeats itself, that really brought our country to the depths that it had entered into," President Aquino said. PND (as)

Palace confident 2015 National Budget will be passed within the year

The Palace has expressed confidence that the 2015 National Budget will be passed within the year.

“We are confident with the leadership of (House of Representatives) Speaker Sonny Belmonte that the House will be able to pass the budget based on the calendar… for the approval of the 2015 National Budget,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters during Tuesday’s press briefing in Malacañang.

Lacierda said that the Palace is thankful that the House was able to muster a quorum on Monday.

“Hopefully, the quorum will continue until the last day of the plenary session on the approval of the budget in the lower house,” he said.

Lacierda was commenting on reports that Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco has threatened to continue questioning the quorum of the day if Budget Secretary Florencio Abad fails to release the detailed report on which legislators received funding through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Speaker Belmonte on Thursday called on Liberal Party leaders to ask their members to attend the budget deliberations to prevent a reenacted budget. PND (ag)

President Aquino welcomes ‘new blood’ in Philippine politics

(CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts) President Benigno S. Aquino III has said he welcomes the thought of having new people in government as he remains positive toward signing the Anti-Political Dynasty Bill into law.

“At the end of the day, new blood has to bring new ideas, new methodologies, new energies that perhaps can improve on that which was already set,” President Aquino told students of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government during a forum held here Monday.

The President was responding to a student’s question on the presence of political dynasties in the Philippines and how people who do not come from such dynasties could have a fair shot at winning in the polls.

“First of all, there are already measures before Congress and I’m about to pass the Anti-Dynasty Law in furtherance of the Constitution,” he said.

The President also reiterated his previous observation that some politicians may be put at a disadvantage, even if they are doing something right and not just relying on the good reputation attached to their famous name.

“To forestall the possibility that there will be abuse of situations, then perhaps we should make sure that, at some point—if not, perhaps after their term limits—there is a whole new set (of leaders) who will be bringing in ideas that hopefully will build upon that which is already developed,” he said.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate are deliberating on their respective versions of the Anti-Political Dynasty Bill, which has recently gained steady backing from other politicians as well. PND (hdc)

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, September 22, 2014

Philippines better off today with ongoing reforms, says President Aquino

(BOSTON, Massachusetts) The Philippines has changed a lot and has created more opportunities for its people because of the reform measures undertaken by the government, President Benigno S. Aquino III said Sunday in a speech before students of Boston College and the Filipino-American community here.

Among the major changes that have taken place in the Philippines are the country's big strides in the economic front, the peace in Mindanao, and government initiatives to fight corruption, he said.

The President recalled that from 2006 to 2009, average growth was at 4.3 percent, saying this was largely consumer-driven, fueled by the remittances of overseas workers who had lost hope in the motherland.

Since taking office in 2010, President Aquino said, his administration has worked to foster sustainability by rebalancing the economy towards investments.

"Since 2010, our economy has been growing at an average of 6.3 percent, and last year, we posted an economic growth of 7.2 percent, making us one of the fastest growing economies in our part of the world," he told his audience.

The World Economic Forum Competitiveness Report showed that the Philippines jumped from 85th place in 2010 to 52nd in 2014, the biggest improvement by any country in that particular time frame.

The three major credit ratings agencies, namely Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, also upgraded the country for the first time to investment grade in 2013, he said, adding that these upgrades reduced the cost of borrowing and reinforced confidence among investors to put their money in the Philippines.

On its anti-corruption drive, the President said the former chief Justice of the Supreme Court was impeached and is facing charges in regular courts.

A former president and three incumbent senators are also in detention, all of them facing charges of plunder, he added.

Focusing on social protection, he said, is also a major thrust of the government.

The President said that 4.1 million poor Filipino families have committed to vaccinating their children, keeping them in school, and sending pregnant mothers for regular check-ups under the expanded Conditional Cash Transfer program.

Job generation initiatives by the government have also started to bear fruit, the Chief Executive said.

He said that 1.65 million more Filipinos hold jobs in April 2014, compared to April 2013. From the first semester of 2012 to the same period in 2013, 2.5 million Filipinos have risen above the poverty line.

"And we are not satisfied; the government continues to work to ensure that citizens not only surpass the poverty line and find gainful employment, but also are shielded from once again falling below it again," the President said.

After several decades, permanent peace is already evident in Mindanao, he told the Boston College community.

The Executive Branch of the government, he said, has submitted the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law to Congress, after the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed in March this year.

"Our achievements thus far are merely the beginning of a new era of transformation," he said, noting that the country is at the threshold of sustained and positive change.

Current reforms have shifted the Filipino mindset, from indifference and despair to having feelings of hope for Filipinos to dream again, he said. PND (as)

President Aquino thanks donors from Boston for helping typhoon-devastated Visayan region

(BOSTON, Massachusetts) President Benigno S. Aquino III has expressed his gratitude to Boston College and Filipino-Americans who had extended assistance to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda.

"Without the help of our friends in the international community, the path to recovery and rehabilitation would not have been traversed as early and as efficiently," the President said in his speech at Boston College here Sunday.

The President attended a convocation and a reception hosted by the Filipino-American community here, and met with the recipients of the Benigno and Corazon Aquino scholarship.

"To all my countrymen here today and to the organizations you belong to and represent, I know that many of you here, including our host Boston College, raised funds and sent material help to the Yolanda survivors," he told his audience. "I would like to thank you for your generosity and kindness."

The compassion expressed by donors from Boston is similar to core Filipino values that remain to be a shining example of the best that humanity has to offer, he said.

"It is the same sense of community that welcomed us and allowed my family some warmth and light so many years ago, when the darkness of the dictatorship threatened to overwhelm us," he added.

Prior to his meeting with the Filipino-American community and Boston College officials and students, the President attended a mass celebrated at St. Ignatius Church at the Boston College campus.

The President, who arrived here Saturday night, was accompanied by some members of his Cabinet and Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Cuisia, Jr. PND (as)

President Aquino recalls hardships during Martial Law years

(BOSTON, Massachusetts) As the country marked the 42nd anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, President Aquino on Sunday recalled his family’s sufferings under the dictatorship of former president Ferdinand Marcos.

"Every aspect of life was controlled by the dictator, and unless you belonged to the favored few, you had very limited rights," the President said in a speech delivered before students and officials of Boston College as well as Filipino-Americans here.

After then president Marcos put the entire nation under military rule on September 21, 1972, President Aquino’s family had to live in exile for three years in Boston. When his father, former senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. returned to the Philippines on August 21, 1983, he was assassinated.

"A curfew limited the time you could be outside your home; travel abroad required official permission; and there was no such thing as free speech, or freedom of assembly," President Aquino said.

Marcos and his cronies plundered the public treasury, destroyed the checks and balances in government, and governed with total impunity to kill, abduct and torture critics, according to the President.

Out of fear, or an unwillingness to take any risk, many people stopped talking to the Aquino family, he recounted.

He noted that his father’s assassination however became a turning point, as the Filipinos sympathized with the Aquinos, leading to the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution that also put his mother, former president Corazon Aquino at the helm of government.

President Aquino further said that just like during the martial law years, the country experienced about a decade of abuse and neglect during the previous administration.

This however changed when the Filipinos gave him the mandate to carry out reforms in government, he said.

He told his audience that present achievements are merely the beginning of a new era of national transformation.

"We are at the threshold of sustained, positive change in society; we have corrected the inefficiencies in government, stopped the wrong practices, and engendered a shift in the Filipino mindset, from one of indifference and despair, to one where we can dream again, and are increasingly being given the wherewithal to fulfill our dreams," he said.

The nation, he said, will be building on what it has already achieved, starting from a higher plane, towards a situation that could harness the full potential of the Filipino people.

"And I know that if we hold fast, and keep on the straight path, then the transformation in Philippine society can become an enduring mainstream of justice, inclusiveness, and empowerment," President Aquino said. PND (as)

President Aquino pays homage to Boston, walks down memory lane

(BOSTON, Massachusetts) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Sunday paid homage to Boston in a 37-minute speech, replete with anecdotes and bittersweet memories, as he looked back at his life in the early 1980s while growing up in this area.

It was a homecoming 31 years in the making. President Aquino acknowledged it took that long for him to come back as he had to make sure his emotions were in check before embarking on this nostalgic trip.

“It has been 31 years since I left Boston, and coming here for the first time since then brings back quite a lot of memories. It was here in Boston that I experienced my first snowfall,” the President told a Filipino-American convocation at the Robsham Theater in Boston College.

“To those of you who remember me back then as the dog-handler, carpenter, plumber, baggage-carrier, mechanic, driver, etc., as that young man who found it difficult to weather your cold winters, you must be thinking ‘how things have changed,' Boston played a significant role in this,” he said.

President Aquino said he owed to Boston and their friends here the “sense of normalcy” granted to his family as they tried to comprehend the suffering they had to deal with under then president Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship.

“It was here in Boston that I learned the value of introspection… I consider my time here as amongst my formative years, fortifying me for the continuation of the struggle, and arming me with relevant experiences… It was in Boston, thanks to all our friends, that my family was given a haven from the persecution of the dictatorship,” he said.

President Aquino lived in Boston with his family from 1980 to 1983. He was in his early 20s then and had just graduated from Ateneo de Manila University.

He remembered the deep conversations he had with his father, the late Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., during those years and how these conversations guide him whenever he has to make tough decisions.

“My father was quoting from the Bible when he said, ‘If the time is not right, a thousand prophets will not make a difference. But if the time is right, not even a single prophet will be needed.’ He was proven right. Dad's death started a new movement for change,” he said.

The elder Aquino’s assassination on August 21, 1983 ignited a people power revolution in the Philippines, catapulting his wife, Corazon Aquino, to the presidency. President Aquino eventually followed his parents’ footsteps after responding to public clamor for him to run for president in 2010.

“For me, the time my family spent in Boston will always be linked to the revolution that reclaimed democracy and our national dignity. The solidarity we felt from Boston College and the community here was a precursor of the solidarity displayed by the millions of Filipinos who massed in EDSA. It is, indeed, an understatement to say that Boston is close to my family’s heart,” he said.

President Aquino thanked the entire Boston College community as well as the Jesuit priests whom he considered as among those responsible for his scholastic upbringing.

"If I amounted to anything, I think the Jesuits should be credited with, at the very least, half of what I know today," President Aquino earlier said to Fr. William Leahy, who celebrated the mass he attended at the St. Ignatius Church prior to the convocation.

Concluding his speech, the President left this particular vignette about his mother to his audience: “During her visit to Boston in the springtime of Filipino democracy in 1986, Mom said to the communities here, ‘I wish you many splendid autumn memories this winter.’ I echo this today, in saying: May the memories you build here be warmed by the affections of Filipinos who, like me, found in Boston home, kindness, and kinship.” PND (hdc)

Malacañang announces new appointments in various agencies

Malacañang on Monday announced that President Benigno S. Aquino III has appointed 12 new officials in various government agencies.

In a press briefing, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte told reporters that President Aquino signed the appointment of Victor Jose Luciano as member of the Civil Aeronautics Board under the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC).

Also appointed under the DOTC were Emigdio Tanjuatco III as president/chief executive officer and member of the board of directors of the Clark International Airport Corporation; and Alipio Fernandez, Jr. and Ramil Guiao as members of the corporation’s board of directors.

Under the Department of Health, Valeriano Lopez was appointed as Director IV; and Celia Carlos and Ruby Constantino as Acting Directors III.

The President also appointed Lea Delfinado as Director III under the Department of Public Works and Highways; Danilo Enriquez as Director IV of the Bureau of Philippine Standards under the Department of Trade and Industry; Briccio Santos as chairperson of the Film Development Council of the Philippines; Gregorio Ramon Tingson as member representing the youth sector under the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council; and, Reginald Villasanta as undersecterary under the Office of the President. PND (ag)

Gov’t allots P14.8-M for President Aquino’s visit to US

The government has earmarked P14.8 million for President Benigno S. Aquino III’s visit to the US, where he will address a global summit on climate change organized by the United Nations and sit down with business leaders to discuss the investment and tourism potential of the Philippines, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said on Monday.

President Aquino departed Berlin, Germany, the last stop in his eight-day working visit to Europe, on Saturday evening for Boston for a four-day visit beginning September 20. He will be in New York on September 22.

President Aquino will be joined in the US by members of his official family, namely, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, Socio-economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Presidential Assistant on Climate Change Secretary Mary Ann Lucille Sering, Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Press Secretary Herminio Coloma, Presidential Management Staff Chief Julia Andrea Abad, Presidential Protocol Chief Celia Anna Feria, Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III and Undersecretary Rochelle Ahorro.

The amount covers expenses for transportation, accommodation, food, equipment and other requirements of the Chief Executive and his delegation.

“President Aquino will underscore the experience and successes of our country in implementing reforms and in dealing with the problem of corruption in government to political and business leaders in the US,” Ochoa noted.

“He sees this visit to the US as an opportunity to push our agenda on trade, tourism, peace and security as well as further strengthen ties between our country and the US.”

In New York, President Aquino is scheduled to meet with the chief executive officer (CEO) of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and will have the opportunity to ring the NYSE bell. A breakfast roundtable with CEOs will also be held at the NYSE.

Later in the day, the President will sit down with CEOs of the US Chamber of Commerce and the US-ASEAN Business Council for a business roundtable.

One of the highlights of the President’s visit in the US is a speech before world leaders at the UN Climate Change Summit Plenary 2014 organized by the United Nations.

“President Aquino will emphasize the need for world leaders to stand together to address climate change and its adverse effects on people and economies. The President is well aware of the impacts of climate change especially to vulnerable developing counties like the Philippines,” Ochoa said.

President Aquino is expected to be back in the country on Thursday (September 25).

President Aquino thanks Boston College for renaming scholarships after his parents

(BOSTON, Massachusetts) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Sunday thanked the Boston College community for honoring his parents, the late senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. and the late president Corazon Aquino, by renaming the Asian American Scholarships after them.

“In this home away from home, I must also express my deepest appreciation to Boston College for renaming the Asian American Scholarships after my parents in 2010,” the President told a convocation of Filipino-Americans at Boston College’s Robsham Theater.

The Benigno and Corazon Aquino Scholarships are bestowed annually upon smart, dedicated, and courageous Asian and Asian-American students who are entering their senior year at Boston College.

“Mom and Dad placed a very high premium on education. They believed that a person can be famous one day, and a nobody the next; he can be rich today, and penniless tomorrow. But education is a permanent resource; once you have it, you can never lose it,” President Aquino told students of the college.

“All of you who are students here bear the hopes and dreams of your families and communities. You face the challenge of balancing your academics with the Ignatian challenge of being a man or a woman for others, of going beyond yourselves and truly being God's light in the world,” he added.

Out of all the many great Asian and Asian-Americans that embody the ideals the scholarship program stand for, naming it after President Aquino’s parents was the perfect fit, said Professor Min Hyoung Song, Boston College Chair of the Aquino Scholarship and Director of the Asian American Studies Program.

“What I personally love about the name—Benigno and Corazon Aquino—is that it tells us something about this problem for justice. It says that one might never see the fulfillment of one’s aspirations for justice. But that one, nevertheless, strives and finds courage to attain it,” Song explained

“And if one fails, someone else will pick up that struggle. That one will have inspired someone else and that it continues on and on, that the struggle for justice never ends, and I think that’s what this scholarship ultimately distills for our students,” he added.

President Aquino also met some of the Asian and Asian-American recipients of the scholarship program, including Matt Alonsozana, who spoke in behalf of his fellow scholars to deliver a message of gratitude for the visiting Philippine head of state.

“Mr. President, the scholarship named in honor of your parents is not so much an occasion to which we here at Boston College celebrate past deeds. Instead, the bestowal of this award is an acknowledgment by our community that the principles and ideals of your parents illustrate that which we are called here to do at Boston College: to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heave the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to seek reward, to be men and women for others now and forevermore,” Alonsozana said.

The connection between Boston College and the Aquino family dates back to the early 1980s, when the latter occupied the house at 175 Commonwealth Avenue, which is a short distance away from the school.

President Aquino’s younger sister, Viel Aquino-Dee, in fact completed her college education here. The Chief Executive also said he spent a lot of time in its St. Ignatius Church back in the day.

“Each year, we award the Benigno and Corazon Aquino scholarship in recognition of their commitment to justice, democracy, and service of others. So today’s events, our presence here, reaffirm the links between Boston College and the Philippines,” said Fr. William Leahy, president of the Boston College. PND (hdc)

Flood control projects to be completed by August 2015, says Palace

In the aftermath of Typhoon Mario that left parts of Metro Manila submerged in floodwaters, the government is optimistic that it can complete its flood control projects by August next year, a Palace official said on Monday.

In a press briefing, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte told reporters that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will look for other sources of funds to complete the projects.

“Sabi ni (DPWH) Secretary (Rogelio) Singson, while there were infrastructure projects na flood-related affected by the DAP decision, hahanapan nila ng ibang funding source ito,” said Valte.

She noted that the DPWH has identified the three main causes of flooding in Metro Manila -- the clogged waterways, small and old drainage, and garbage that find their way into the sewage system.

Meanwhile, Valte said President Benigno S. Aquino III has directed his Cabinet to give the typhoon victims assistance, restore power supply, and make passable all flooded roads for relief efforts.

“Siguraduhin na kahit umaaraw na ay patuloy pa rin ang pagtulong ng pambansang pamahalaan,” she said, referring to the President’s instruction.

According to Valte, power has been restored in Apayao, Laguna, Batangas, Quezon and Rizal. PND (ag)