Tuesday, 2 September 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Saturday, August 30, 2014

President Aquino closely watching Golan Heights standoff

President Benigno S. Aquino III is closely watching the situation in the Golan Heights where Filipino peacekeepers are currently in a stand off with Syrian rebels, a Palace official said.

"The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is in direct communication with the peacekeepers and with the UN (United Nations) Force Headquarters in Golan Heights, and are trying to resolve the situation peacefully," Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a statement over dzRB Radyo Ng Bayan on Saturday.

The AFP has already assured the families of the Filipino peacekeepers that the soldiers are being taken care of despite the ongoing standoff.

The President also worries about the safety of the peacekeepers, according to Valte.

"Tingin ko kung tayo nag-aalala, kung ang Pangulo nag-alala sa sitwasyon nila, we can only imagine what the families are feeling," she said during the radio interview.

"Mahirap pong maging pamilya ng isang sundalo, at siguro po, damayan po natin sila sa kanilang pagdarasal, at doon sa pag-asa na talagang ma-defuse po ang sitwasyon diyan sa Golan Heights, at maka-uwi nang matiwasay ang ating mga sundalo," she added.

Asked if the government has contingency plans in case the situation in the Golan Heights worsens, Valte said the government has such measures but they will leave it to the AFP to make a public announcement.

In the meantime, however, the government is closely monitoring and working for the safe release of the peacekeepers for them to come home safe and well, Valte added.

The AFP said in a bulletin issued on Friday that Syrian rebels surrounded the camp of Filipino peacekeepers in the Golan Heights on Thursday (August 28), demanding for the troops to 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, and demanded that they surrender their firearms, and took them as hostages.

President Aquino, who was in Oriental Mindoro Friday to inspect infrastructure projects, said he was asked to return to Manila immediately after the event to deal with the standoff. PND (as)

Filipino workers can compete with its Asian neighbors, says Palace

The Palace made an assurance that Filipino workers can compete in Asia in terms of skills and talents in the regional market as more and more manufacturing companies opt to relocate to Southeast Asia.

The good thing about the Philippines is that it is entering a so-called "demographic sweet spot," a period when the country will have a large pool of young workers, Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview over dzRB Radyo Ng Bayan on Saturday.

"That’s why we want to make sure, as the President says, that we keep investing in human capital kasi ‘yun ang importante. While the investments in manufacturing come, we want to make sure that our labor force is prepared to meet the challenge," she said.

Part of this initiative is forging close coordination between the Department of Labor and Employment, the Technical Education Skills Development Authority and the Commission on Higher Education.

These agencies will advise students entering college what courses to enroll for them to land a job by the time they graduate, she said.

The important thing in the regional competition is that Filipino laborers and professionals have the skills that would be needed when the manufacturing firms come to the Philippines, the Palace official added.

There is also a good perception overseas about the country for being a manufacturing haven given its English speaking and talented workforce.

Valte said that every time that the President goes out of the country he meets businessmen professing interest in investing in the Philippines.

While there are those expressing their interest, companies that are already operating in the country continue to expand their operations, she added.

"In the end, government has to make sure that the labor force and the professionals are more than equipped to handle the challenges, to allow the manufacturing sector to grow," Valte said.

"And I think makikita rin diyan, in the recent report— sa GDP report natin — makikita naman na lumalaki talaga ang pie ng manufacturing or its contribution to our GDP," she added.

According to the report of global workforce solutions provider ManpowerGroup, while major companies want to relocate to Southeast Asia, there is skepticsm over the region's capability to match China's credentials. PND (as)

Palace says Supreme Court did not ask funding for e-courts in 2014, 2015

Malacanang clarified on Saturday that the Supreme Court did not make requests to fund its e-courts in 2014 and 2015 so the budget department wasn't able allocate money for the project.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said this week that the executive department did not give Supreme Court the budget for e-courts. She also raised the issue on the smaller allocation for the SC.

But in an interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday, Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the SC did not submit funding request for the e-courts for 2014 and 2015.

"Ang meron po tayong datos ay ‘yung sinuportahan po natin ang Supreme Court doon sa kanilang naging hiling na pag-implement ng information technology project nila o ‘yung EISP (Enterprise Information Systems Plan)," she said.

The EISP aims to digitize Supreme Court processes to speed up litigation of cases, according to Valte.

A five-year program, the EISP is to be implemented from 2010 to 2015 with a total project cost of P774.6 million, she said.

"'Ito ang sinuportahan ng administrasyon, at kung ano ang ni-request nilang funding for that, naibigay naman po," she said.

Chief Justice Sereno met with members of media on Thursday to discuss several issues such the Disbursement Acceleration Program, the Judiciary Development Fund, her relation to President Aquino and many other issues. PND (as)