Filipino peacekeepers in Golan Heights now ‘reposition’ in safe camp
After almost a two-day standoff with Al-Qaeda-linked Syrian rebels, the Filipino peacekeepers in Golan Heights are now safe and repositioned in Camp Ziuoani, a Palace official said on Sunday.
“As of 7:00 a.m. today, lahat po ng mga Filipino peacekeepers mula sa Position 68 at Position 69 ay naka-reposition na sa Camp Ziuoani,” said Presidential Communication Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., in a press briefing over radio station dzRBRadyo ng Bayan.
On August 29, Syrian rebels overran the position of Fijian United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), taking their firearms and holding the 44 Fijian peacekeepers hostage.
Since then, the rebels advanced and surrounded the positions held by Filipino peacekeepers, until they attacked on Saturday (August 30) morning.
The Filipino peacekeepers on early Sunday morning were able to escape and reposition themselves in Camp Ziuoani.
Coloma said Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Pio Catapang lauded the Filipino peacekeepers for their gallant effort in defending their positions.
“Pinapurihan nina Secretary Gazmin at General Catapan ang ating mga magigiting na kawal sa kanilang matatag at ‘di matinag na determinasyong ipagtanggol ang lugar sa Golan Heights na sakop ng kanilang responsibilidad. Patunay ito sa determinasyon ng Pilipinas na gampanan ang commitment nito sa United Nations,” said Coloma.
The Communication Secretary also thanked the nation-members of UNDOF together with the government of Syria, Israel, Qatar and the United States for their support to defuse the tension in Golan Heights.
The UNDOF is composed of 1,223 troops from six countries: Fiji, India, Nepal, Netherlands and the Philippines. PND (ag)
Malacañang welcomes World Bank’s new financial package
Malacanang welcomed on Sunday the World Bank’s announcement that they will extend a 22.4 billion pesos financial package intended for rural infrastructure development and assistance for Filipino fishermen and farmers.
“Ikinagagalak natin ang pagpapahayag ng World Bank hinggil sa US 508-million dollars o 22.4 bilyong pisong loan at financial package para sa Pilipinas,” Presidential Communication Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., in a press briefing over radio station dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.
This financial package called the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) to be implemented by the Department of Agriculture will benefit more or less 2 million farmers and fishermen.
Under the PRDP, more than 70 percent of the fund will go to infrastructure projects that include: farm-to-market roads, bridges, tire trucks, communal irrigation, potable water systems, post-harvest facilities, production facilities, fish landings, fish sanctuaries, storage facilities, trading posts, greenhouses, solar driers, and slope stabilization works.
Among the benefits of the financial grant is increasing the level of the annual household incomes (real household income) of farmers and fishermen by no less than five percent.
Also included in the financial package is a 7 million pesos grant aimed in at strengthening the conservation efforts of marine-protected areas of Tayabas, Quezon; Green Island in Palawan; Ticao Pass between Sorsogon and Masbate; Guimaras; Danajon Bank in Bohol; and, Guiuan, Eastern Samar. PND (ag)
Palace hails Gilas Pilipinas’ gallant effort against Croatia team
Malacañang hailed on Sunday the impressive performance shown by the Philippine men’s national basketball team, Gilas Pilipinas, despite an 81-78 overtime loss against Croatia to open its FIBA World Cup bid last Saturday evening (Manila time) in Seville, Spain.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said the entire Filipino nation is behind Gilas Pilipinas, cheering and supporting all the way, as they compete against the world’s best basketball teams.
“Nakikiisa ang Pangulo sa buong sambayanan sa paghahatid ng pagbati sa ipinakitang galing at determinasyon ng ating mga manlalaro ng Gilas Pilipinas sa kanilang laban kontra Croatia. Sa kabila ng matinding pagsubok at hamon, nagawa ng Pilipinas na lumaban hanggang huli at umani sila ng paghanga sa mundo ng basketball,” Coloma said over Radyo ng Bayan.
President Benigno S. Aquino III himself, in his interview with Bombo Radyo Philippines last Wednesday, said the Philippines' return in the world basketball stage after a 36-year absence is a “great opportunity for us to show our talents and our collective attitude as a nation—that we don’t give up easily.”
Those words rang true in Saturday’s game as Gilas Pilipinas (ranked 34th by FIBA) nearly caused an upset against a much-favored Croatian team (ranked 16th by FIBA) in their first game of the elimination round in Group B.
Croatia started the game strong, capitalizing on its height advantage, and established a 15-point lead. It took a while for the Filipinos to respond until they made a run towards the end of the first half, knocking down three-point shots, with team captain Jimmy Alapag even completing a rare four-point play opportunity.
Gilas Pilipinas relied on the shooting prowess of guard Jeff Chan and naturalized center Andray Blatche during most of the second half to keep the game close, even taking a three-point lead towards the end of regulation, but it was Croatia that came on top in overtime.
Notwithstanding the loss, Malacañang remains positive and urged the entire Filipino nation to continue cheering for Gilas Pilipinas regardless of the results of their remaining games ahead. The Philippines is scheduled to play against Greece next, followed by Argentina, Puerto Rico, and Senegal respectively.
“Sa mga manlalaro ng Gilas Pilipinas, kabilang na ang coaching staff, nasa likod ninyo ang buong sambayanang Pilipino at sama-sama ang ating panalangin sa inyong pakikiharap sa mga pinakamahuhusay na basketbolista sa buong mundo. Isigaw natin ang battlecry: “Laban Pilipinas! Puso!” Coloma said. PND (hdc)