President Aquino says Filipino peacekeepers in the Golan Heights remain safe
(PUERTO GALERA, ORIENTAL MINDORO) President Benigno S. Aquino III said here Friday that Filipino soldiers serving as United Nations (UN) peacekeepers in the Golan Heights remain safe despite a stand-off with Syrian rebels.
"Sa ngayon, bagama’t tense ang sitwasyon ay tila wala naman ho talagang masasabi nating panganib na inuulat sa ating Kagawaran ng Tanggulan," said President Aquino.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said in a bulletin issued on Friday that Syrian rebels surrounded the camp of Filipino peacekeepers in Golan Heights on Thursday (August 28), demanding the troops surrender their weapons.
The Filipino peacekeepers however refused, resulting in a stand-off with the rebels.
Earlier, the rebels occupied the camp of 43 Fiji peacekeepers, demanded they surrender their firearms, and took them as hostages.
President Aquino, who was in Oriental Mindoro to inspect infrastructure projects, said he was asked to return to Manila immediately after the event.
“Ang plano ho kasi masubukan kong maging turista ngayong gabi dito sa Mindoro Oriental. ‘Yon ho ‘yung plano. ‘Yung katotohanan ho pinababalik na ako sa Maynila pagkatapos nito dahil meron tayong konting problema sa Golan Heights, doon sa ating mga peacekeepers na nadamay ‘dun sa civil war na nangyayari po sa Syria,” he said in his speech.
“Pero, so far e mukhang--huwag ho tayong kabahan. Ang balita e mukhang stable ang sitwasyon,” he added.
Expressing concern over the safety of the Filipino soldiers, the AFP said the government and UN officials are already trying to peacefully resolve the situation.
“We are in direct communication with our peacekeepers and with the UN Force Headquarters in the Golan Heights, as options and contingency plans are being drawn and considered,” it said in the bulletin.
“We will exert all efforts to ensure the safety and security of our peacekeepers,” the AFP said. PND (ag)
President Aquino inspects proposed road project in Mindoro
(PUERTO GALERA, Oriental Mindoro) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday inspected the P1.93-billion proposed road project that will connect the provinces of Oriental Mindoro and Occidental Mindoro.
During a program held at Sitio Talipanan, Barangay Aninuan, Puerto Galera, where the paved road ended in Oriental Mindoro, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson briefed the President and guests on the major infrastructure projects in Mindoro.
Singson described the project to link Abra de Ilog town in Occidental Mindoro to Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro as "environmentally sensitive", as the road will either go through a rainforest or along a shoreline with existing beach resorts.
President Aquino however underscored the importance of bridging the two provinces of Mindoro to bring growth to the island, particularly in terms of tourism and agriculture.
“Siyempre, pag kumpleto na ‘yung kalsada, makakatulong nang malaki sa turismo na isang malaking industriya po ng Mindoro, hindi ho ba. At sa kabuhayan ng maraming mga Mindoreño,” he said in his speech.
Once constructed, the 20.33-kilometer Abra de Ilog--Puerto Galera Road will complete the Mindoro Island Circumferential Road.
"So, pagtulungan natin ito, minimize natin ‘yung impact on the environment. Pero ‘yung kailangang imprastruktura ng tao, sana po matuloy na, para mayroon tayong kalsadang buo, at hindi parang horseshoe, na may kabilaang dulo pero hindi nagkokonekta," the President said, describing the incomplete circumferential road.
Present during the program were Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas, Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso “Boy” Umali, Occidental Mindoro Governor Gene Mendiola, Oriental Mindoro Representative Doy Leachon, Occidental Mindoro Representative Josie Sato, Bishop Warlito Cajandig, and other local government officials. PND (ag)
President Aquino vows to continue developing Mindoro Island's infrastructure
(PUERTO GALERA, Oriental Mindoro) President Benigno S. Aquino III said here Friday the government has so far spent P10.71 billion to develop major infrastructure in Mindoro Island.
The President visited Mindoro to inspect major infrastructure projects in the island, aimed at boosting its tourism and trade sectors.
Based on the assessment of the Budget Department, the government has poured in P6.1 billion from 2011 to 2014 for Oriental Mindoro alone.
The amount was spent for the construction of roads, bridges, flood control facilities, airports and seaports, as well as irrigation systems, the President said in his message.
The construction of the island's farm-to-market roads is either completed or ongoing, he added.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has spent P6.1 billion for Oriental Mindoro and P4.6 billion for Occidental Mindoro, the President reported.
Among the DPWH's projects are the ongoing construction of the Mindoro East and West Coast Roads and the Abaton-Maidlang Bridge II.
"Ang maganda po rito, marami pang nakapilang proyekto na tiyak maghahatid ng de-kalidad na serbisyo sa atin pong mga mamamayan," he said.
"Pinag-aaralan na rin po ng DPWH ang minumungkahing Abra de Ilog-Puerto Galera section ng Mindoro Island Circumferential Road na magkokonekta sa hilagang bahagi ng Occidental at Oriental Mindoro," he added.
Once Mindoro's major roads are constructed, travel time will be faster, resulting in the speedy delivery of goods to major markets that will eventually boost the island's businesses, he said.
These improvements will also enhance tourism, as more tourists will be encouraged to visit Mindoro Island, he said.
"Sa maayos na kalsada, ang mga taga-Maynila o taga-Tarlac na gaya ko, lalong mawiwiling bumisita sa magagandang beach ninyo tulad dito sa Puerto Galera o dumayo sa iba pang magagandang destinasyon gaya ng Apo Reef diyan po sa Occidental Mindoro," the President said.
A vibrant commerce and tourism will open up more opportunities to the people of Mindoro, he said.
He further said that as the government develops Mindoro's roads and bridges, it is also rehabilitating airports and seaports in the island, particularly the airports in Pinamalayan, San Jose, Lubang, and Calapan.
"Ongoing na rin po ang pagpapalawak ng bagong San Jose port, ang pagpapaunlad ng Calapan at Bulalacao port, habang tapos na ang pagpapaunlad ng mga daungan sa Roxas, Bansud, at Abra de Ilog," he said.
The government has also completed flood control facilities in Pinamalayan, Bongabong, and Calapan City that would ease flooding in Mindoro's communities, the President noted.
Despite these successes, the President said his job is not yet finished and he has to continue focusing on improving the country's infrastructure to ensure a sustainable economic growth.
In the proposed 2015 National Budget, he said his administration allotted P562.3 billion, or 21 percent of the total budget, for infrastructure development for the entire country.
Under the watch of Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, the department does not tolerate corruption, bribery and payments of kickbacks, the President said.
"Dahil nga po sa mga repormang isina-kongkreto ni Secretary Babes Singson sa DPWH, mahigit P27 billion na ang natipid ng ahensya sa kanilang mga proyekto mula Hulyo 2010 hanggang Mayo 2014," he added. PND (as)
President Aquino spells out major agricultural projects in Mindoro
(PUERTO GALERA, Oriental Mindoro) President Benigno S. Aquino III said Friday his administration is striving to enhance Mindoro Island’s agricultural sector, as well as its people's welfare.
The President, here to inspect major infrastructure projects, said in his speech that several projects for the agricultural sector have been completed.
He reported that in Oriental Mindoro, 152 farm-to-market roads have been built, benefitting 31,300 farmers, while 63 irrigation projects have been completed and five more are ongoing, benefitting more than 4,700 farmers.
The government has also funded the construction of post-harvest facilities, such as hand tractors and flatbed dryers for the benefit of 133 farmers' associations in the province.
"Malinaw ang hangad natin: mapalago ang ani ng ating mga magsasaka, mapabilis ang biyahe ng mga produkto mula sakahan hanggang pamilihan, at sa huli, madagdagan ang kita ng ating mga kababayan," he said.
As for the government's social protection program, President Aquino said a total of 62,095 households have received state support under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program in Oriental Mindoro.
They form part of more than four million beneficiaries across the country who have received assistance under the program.
He also noted that the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) has 128 subprojects being carried out in the municipalities of Bulalacao, Mansalay, Bongabong, Gloria, Roxas, and Bansud.
Under the KALAHI-CIDSS, the government funded the construction of classrooms, health stations, day-care centers, and other infrastructure in 128 barangays.
The President also reported that from January 2011 to July 2014, more than 11,200 families had received assistance through the Sustainable Livelihood Program.
The government has also provided training and capital so that families could start their own small businesses, he added.
"Anuman pong tayog ng nararating natin ngayon ay bunga ng pag-aambagan ng mga Pilipino. Patuloy ang paglaban natin sa katiwalian at paglikha ng pagkakataon sa ating mga kababayan," the President said.
President Aquino called on the people of Mindoro, as well as all Filipinos, to guard the gains of the government against those trying to sow negativism. PND (as)