Tuesday, 16 September 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, September 8, 2014

President Aquino launches Mindanao Inclusive Agribusiness Program

(DAVAO CITY) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday thanked the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) for helping the government develop Mindanao’s agricultural potentials through its Mindanao Inclusive Agribusiness Program.

"I am glad to see that the government is not alone through this endeavor. Through the Mindanao Inclusive Agribusiness Program, PBSP and its member companies and supporting agencies seek to engage the private sector to invest in Mindanao by helping build the capacities of its small farming communities, thus enabling them to capitalize on the rich resources and the many opportunities available in the region," President Aquino said during the launch of the program at the SMX Convention Center here.

President Aquino said the launch of the initiative comes at an opportune time, as the government seeks to transform Mindanao “from the Land of Promise to the Land of Promises Fulfilled."

He acknowledged that for a long time, Mindanao was left in the margins, suffering from poverty and underdevelopment, but his administration has worked to reform the system and invest in communities in the region.
“We must boost Mindanao’s capacities, so that they themselves may catch up and contribute to our economic growth,” he said.

The government’s efforts resulted in the construction, upgrading and rehabilitation of 3,491 km of national roads, and 208.4 km of farm-to-market roads, he said, adding that more than P99 billion was allotted for the construction of vital infrastructure in the region from 2011 to 2014, and P63.13 billion has been proposed for infrastructure in Mindanao for 2015.

Some 161.3 km of the Digos-Kidapawan-Pagalungan -Cotabato Road were improved and 39 bridges were rehabilitated early this year, while the Basilan Circumferential Road is expected to be finished soon, he said.

The Lake Lanao Circumferential Road Project in Lanao del Sur is also targeted to be completed next year, he said.

President Aquino further said that the Department of Agriculture has helped build post-harvest facilities and provide equipment for the production of coffee, cacao, and rubber for the region.

He also called on farmers to carry out intercropping to increase the income of the agricultural sector.

Growing coffee, bananas, or cacao, alongside coconuts, will not only diversify the produce of a community, but will enable the farmer to earn more, and contribute more to the region’s economic activities, he said.

The President said he earlier learned that certain companies have already responded to the call to advance inclusive business in Mindanao.

Citing examples, he said that through its agronomy and farmer-connect programs, Nestlé has equipped local farmers with the knowledge and technique for coffee production. The company also purchases the farmers’ produce.

Bali Oil taps poor farmers from communities in Mindanao as contract growers of oil palm trees, he said, adding that in the next five years, the company plans to expand operations and provide livelihood to 22,500 households in the region.

Kennemer Foods International meanwhile trains farmers from rural areas how to plant cacao trees, and purchases their produce, aiming to generate jobs for 18,833 households in Palawan, Mindanao, and Visayas by 2016.

“If the public and private sectors remain committed to the same vision and if we maintain the synergy and trust that we have so far harnessed to undeniably positive results, we can look forward to a Mindanao that will serve as a true convergence point of trade and opportunity not only for the Philippines but also for our region,” President Aquino said.

Present during the event were Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Mindanao Development Authority Chairperson Luwalhati Antonino, PBSP Mindanao Regional Committee Chairman Paul Dominguez, and PBSP Executive Director Rafael Lopa. PND (ag)

Final draft of Bangsamoro Law to be submitted to Congress on Wednesday

(DAVAO CITY) The final draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law will be formally presented to President Benigno S. Aquino III and the Congress on Wednesday, a Malacañang official said on Monday.

"It’s just a last cleaning up, following the meetings that were held last week. So, on Wednesday (September 10), there will be a turnover ceremony in Malacañang," Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles told reporters during a press briefing here.

"The leaders and our expected champions in Congress will be going to Malacañang and the President himself has decided he will personally endorse the draft to Congress," she added.

Last March 27, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro was signed after the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Philippine government came up with an agreement that aims to bring lasting peace to Mindanao.

This paved the way for the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which will be submitted to the House of Representatives and the Senate for ratification. PND (ag)

President Aquino: Coal still most viable source of electricity for Mindanao

(DAVAO CITY) President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Monday that coal is still the most viable source of electricity for Mindanao.

"If Mindanao needs it (power) now, ‘yung coal is one of the most accessible at this point in time," President Aquino said during a media interview here on the sidelines of the launch of the Mindanao Inclusive Agribusiness Program.

The President was responding to a question on how his administration would address the environmental groups’ resistance to government efforts to attract more investment for power generation in Mindanao.

He said that although the government wants to use renewable energy to address the power generation problem in the region, it is facing a lot of issues.

"Ang problema doon, alam nating lahat kung gaano kamahal kung magso-solar tayo and other forms of renewable energy," he said.

He noted that the government is looking into natural gas but its generation also has issues.

"May problema tayo (sa natural gas) dahil wala pa sa Pilipinas ang regasification plant. Ang gas kasi medyo malaking volume na ang ino-occupy. Para ma-transport ito sa mga nagpo-produce, kailangan mong gawing liquefied gas o compressed natural gas. Para magamit ng ating turbine plants naman, kailangan mong ibalik doon sa kanyang completely gaseous state. Ito ang tinatawag na regasification plant," he explained.

Our choices are limited, he said, noting that the Department of Energy has held a series of public hearings to listen to different sides and decide on the best way to solve Mindanao’s power shortage problem. PND (ag)

President Aquino says government on track in easing traffic due to port congestion

(DAVAO CITY) President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Monday the government remains on track in easing the expected traffic buildup along major thoroughfares in and outside Metro Manila, due to ongoing efforts to decongest Manila’s seaport.

He however indicated that resolving the entire issue would take time, given the number of shipment expected to arrive at the port as the holiday season approaches.

“We were clearly on track to bring the situation to normal levels. Ang problema lang natin, September is the start of the buildup for the Christmas season. So, may bulusok, ano, na dadami na naman ito,” President Aquino told reporters after leading the launch of the Mindanao Inclusive Agribusiness Program at SM Lanang Premier here.

He said the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has already chartered a ship that would take care of the remaining empty containers left at the Port of Manila to decongest the area and make way for new shipments.

This is on top of the decreased docking fees offered by the government in Batangas Port and the additional charges imposed on the owners of overstaying cargoes, among other things, just to clear the port.

“Everything and anything that has been thought of, that can address these congestion problem is being done,” he said.

President Aquino said he would also review video footages to determine what caused the heavy traffic at the North Luzon Expressway last week, to have a better grasp of the situation.

“We ask for forgiveness from the public,” he said, acknowledging the impact the problem has had on the economy.

“We don’t want this thing to exacerbate problems like, for instance, increasing prices for food because of the difficulty in the transport, on the logistics side,” he added. PND (hdc)