President Aquino says hunt for other high-profile fugitives continues
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Wednesday assured the public that the government continues its efforts to pursue and arrest other high-profile fugitives wanted by the authorities.
“Sinabi ko naman ho sa inyo na tuloy-tuloy at hindi tumitigil ang ating mga law enforcement entities na habulin lahat ng mga may warrants of arrest,” the President said during an exclusive interview with Bombo Radyo Philippines.
“Pagpasensiyahan na lang ninyo na hindi ko puwede munang masabi sa inyo ang detalye ngayon,” he said. “Asahan na lang ho ninyo na tuloy-tuloy ang success natin diyan.”
The President indicated that there are “developments” in the search for such high-profile fugitives as former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes, his brother Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, and former Dinagat Island Representative Ruben Ecleo, Jr.
The Reyes brothers are the prime suspects in the killing of environment advocate Gerry Ortega in 2011. Ecleo, on the other had, has been convicted of parricide for the death of his wife.
“Meron nang developments, pero hindi ko ho puwedeng sabihin sa inyo. Dahil baka ‘pag naituro nating malapit na kayo, baka naman—baka mawala na naman ho doon,” he said.
President Aquino cited the recent arrest of retired Major General Jovito Palparan, one of the country’s most wanted fugitives.
“Katulad ‘nung kay General Palparan, matagal-tagal na rin hong nagkaroon ng sighting, pero ‘yung mga naka-sight sa kanya, mga intel agents, kulang ho, kulang raw sila, parang iisa o dadalawa ang nakakita several months ago. At naghintay tayo ng tinatawag na mag-surface nga muli,” he said.
“So kulang ang kakayahan ‘nung intel unit at that time na arestuhin siya dahil may mga kasama raw, diumano. Itong tuloy-tuloy na operations nagresulta nga sa pagkakahuli sa kanya dito sa Sta. Mesa,” he added.
Palparan, wanted for the disappearance of two University of the Philippines students in 2006, was arrested last August 12 in Sta. Mesa, Manila, by agents of the National of Bureau of Investigation after almost three years in hiding. PND (co)
President Aquino hopes to forward draft Bangsamoro Basic Law to Congress soon
President Benigno S. Aquino III said a lot of issues in the draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law have been resolved that it could soon be submitted to Congress.
"Mukhang maisusulong na natin o maihahain na sa Kongreso, sana sa lalong madaling panahon, ang isang panukalang batas na sinasangayunan ng lahat ng stakeholders," he said during an interview with Bombo Radyo Philippines on Wednesday.
The recent review of the draft law focused on the details to make sure that they are in line with the specifications of the law, the President said, adding that a meeting has been scheduled on Thursday (August 28) to discuss the draft.
"Talagang masusing inaaral bawat isang section at bahagi nitong Bangsamoro Basic Law dahil hinahabol nga natin ang isang panukalang batas na maibibigay sa ating mga kapatid sa Bangsamoro iyong kanilang inaasam-asam at binibigyan din naman ng kapanatagan ng loob iyong mga kapit-bahay nila na maapektuhan nitong batas na ito," he said.
Asked about the timetable on passing the Bangsamoro Law, he said this would depend on the discussions in Congress.
The government however wants the transitional authority to have at least one year and a half to promote why the proposed system is more suitable for the Bangsamoro, he said.
“Hinahabol natin na magkaroon ng plebiscite by the end of this year, kung pupwede, at depende nga ito sa talakayan ng Kongreso doon sa batas dahil ang hinahabol natin magkaroon ng one year and a half man lang na maipakita ‘nung transitional authority kung bakit mas angkop ang sistemang iminumungkahi nila sa pagpapatakbo ng Bangsamoro,” the President said.
Presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles recently said that both the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels have already agreed on significant issues, and that is why they decided to forward the draft to the President.
The draft Bangsamoro Basic Law was submitted to President Aquino on Wednesday last week.
Once the draft law is approved by Congress, a plebiscite will be held and a transition authority will be created in preparation for the conduct of an election in the Bangsamoro in 2016.
President Aquino has vowed to push for the conduct of a fair and democratic poll in the region before he leaves office in 2016. PND (as)
Aquino to push for stronger trade ties, raise awareness on climate change in upcoming European, U.S. trips
President Benigno S. Aquino III said he would push for stronger trade relations, as well as raise awareness on climate change when he embarks on a multi-nation tour of Europe and the United States next month.
In an exclusive interview with Bombo Radyo Philippines on Wednesday, the President said he will visit Spain, France, Germany and Belgium middle of September and will then proceed to the US.
While in Europe, he said he would express the country's gratitude to European nations for lifting the restrictions imposed on Philippine carriers, enabling the latter to penetrate the European market.
He also said he would thank leaders of the European Union for their contributions to the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda, as well as to the peace efforts in Mindanao.
He will also hold discussions regarding Filipino seafarers employed in European vessels under the European Maritime Safety Agency.
The President further said he would lure European investors to set up businesses in the Philippines.
"Ang masasabi ko na lang sa inyo na talagang iyong biyahe lalabas ng parang tig-dalawang araw lang kada bansa. Talagang ang biruan nga ‘nung ating mga kasamahan dito, karamihan ng tulog yata ay sa eroplano," he told Bombo Radyo.
"Pero magiging sulit ang pagod na ‘yan sa inaasahan nating ipapasok na investors dito, lalo na sa manufacturing," he added.
After his tour of Europe, the President will proceed to the US to attend a United Nations (UN) summit on global climate change at the invitation of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
He will share the country's experiences on the impact of global climate change and discuss the need to step up measures on raising awareness on climate change adaptation.
Visiting other countries is very important, the President said, noting that meeting foreign leaders face-to-face results in better relations among countries. PND (as)
President Aquino says he is prepared to sign Anti-Dynasty Bill into Law
President Benigno S. Aquino III said he is ready to sign into law the bill that seeks the abolition of political dynasties in the country.
“Kapag naitapos ho nila ‘yan, ako’y handang-handa pirmahan ang batas na ‘yan,” he told Bombo Radyo Philippines during an exclusive interview on Wednesday.
The President noted that the Anti-Dynasty Bill is already gaining traction in Congress, with House of Representatives Speaker Feliciano Belmonte speaking in favor of the initiative.
He said he favors the abolition of political dynasties in the country as dynasties control the economic, political and even the judicial component of communities.
Political dynasties also hamper the conduct of a fair and democratic election in a locality, he added.
One of those who filed the Anti-Dynasty Bill was Congressman Edgar Erice of Caloocan, he said.
The 1987 Constitution calls for an enabling law against political dynasties and the President has said he is ready to sign such bill into law when it reaches his desk. PND (as)
Investment in people, social protection to sustain economy, says President Aquino
The continued growth of the Philippine economy will be sustained by the administration through intensified programs on people development and social protection, President Benigno S. Aquino III has said.
In an exclusive interview with Bombo Radyo Philippines on Wednesday, the President said he believes that the country’s greatest resource is its people, thus the government has been investing heavily on its citizens, especially in terms of education and health.
He said the focus on empowering the people is manifested by the expansion of the conditional cash transfer program to enable children of beneficiary families to finish high school to enhance their employability.
He also mentioned the 300 percent increase in the health budget to broaden the universal health coverage to include catastrophic illnesses.
The Chief Executive said he has also directed the Cabinet to work with a sense of urgency in clearing the administrative bottlenecks that brought about a slowdown in government spending during the first half of the year.
According to Secretary Arsenio Balisacan of the National Economic Development Authority, government disbursements in June increased by almost 45 percent and the administration is confident that the government will catch up on its work program for the year. PND (as)
Claimant countries must work to reduce tension in West Philippine Sea, says President Aquino
Claimant countries in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) must have the "sense" to settle the dispute peacefully and must work together to reduce tension in the contested territory, President Benigno S. Aquino III has said.
"Sana talagang magkaroon tayo ng tinatawag sa Ingles na ‘sense’ mula sa kanila na talagang nakatutok sila sa pagbababa ng lahat ng tensyon at pagreresolba ng lahat ng naayon sa tinatawag na international law at pakikipag-ugnayan ng mahusay sa mga karatig na bansa," President Aquino told Bombo Radyo Philippines in an interview on Wednesday.
The President said he is worried about intelligence reports saying that the rocks and features of the area have been reclaimed and turned into islets.
This would change the legal boundaries in the area, especially as the country pushes its claim through legal means, he said.
"Nababahala tayo sa lahat ng mga kilos na ito, na baka magkakaroon pa tayo ng report na hindi na lang sa ibang mga bansang meron silang... sabihin nating dispute, hindi na lang tubig ang pinag-uusapan, meron na ring land claims," he said.
The President said he has received reports about two hydrographic ships deployed to Recto Bank to do mapping operations.
Recto Bank is 80 miles from Palawan and within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone of the country, he noted, adding that he wonders what the two ships were mapping inside Philippine territory.
The Philippines is concentrating on two initiatives to resolve the issue --- through arbitration under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), and by pushing for a binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
The country has filed an arbitration case to compel China to clarify its claims in the South China Sea. China however has refused to participate in the arbitration.
The Philippines wants to craft a Code of Conduct in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that, once approved, will ask China to also adopt the binding code.
The ASEAN tried to craft a Code of Conduct in 2002 but only produced the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. The declaration is non-binding.
Aside from China and the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan are laying claim to the South China Sea. PND (as)