Sunday, 7 September 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Impeachment proponents given fair day during deliberations, says Palace

Groups wanting to oust the President through impeachment were given an opportunity to make their case in Congress but their move did not prosper, the Palace said on Tuesday.

"The Committee on Justice of the House, after a thorough review of the allegations in terms of its substance, has dismissed the complaints against the President," Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a statement on the dismissal of the impeachment cases against the President.

"We take note that the process took place with transparency, not just according to the rules, but to give the proponents every opportunity to make their case," she said.

The Justice Committee of the House of Representatives on Tuesday trashed the three impeachment complaints against the President after the cases were found insufficient in substance.

With a vote of 54 against each complaint, the three complaints were dismissed separately by lawmakers. Only four votes favored each of it.

The first two complaints stemmed from President Aquino’s Disbursement Acceleration Program.

The third complaint is over the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States. The agreement seeks for a greater American military presence in the country. PND (as)

President Aquino wants detailed report on Golan Heights incident

President Benigno S. Aquino III wants a comprehensive report on last week’s incident in the Golan Heights that will serve as the basis for future deployments of Filipino peacekeepers, a Palace official has said.

The Filipino peacekeepers will stay in the Golan Heights until they complete their tour of duty next month, Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said in a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday.

"The Philippines is committed to fulfill its commitment to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force or UNDOF," he said.

He said the President has instructed the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to prepare a report on the events of last week as a guide for future policies and actions in similar situations.

Some observers have demanded that the UNDOF commander in the Golan Heights be investigated for putting the lives of the Filipino peacekeepers in danger.

Coloma said this is why the President had asked for the report so that there will be a clearer perspective.

The President has expressed his satisfaction and has commended the Filipino peacekeepers who were courageous and determined in the face of the Syrian rebel attack, Coloma said.

Syrian rebels harassed camps manned by Filipino soldiers in the Golan Heights, demanding they surrender their weapons. The soldiers however refused, resulting in a stand-off.

The Filipino soldiers eventually escaped following several hours of gunfight and have since been transferred to a safe location.

Asked when the government could come up with a revised system of deploying Filipino peacekeepers, Coloma said it will be an ongoing study, considering that there is already an announced policy decision to complete the current tour of duty.

He said the policy is the same for Filipino peacekeepers deployed in Liberia -- to complete the engagements based on the country's commitment to the United Nations.

Filipino peacekeepers in Liberia will also complete their tour of duty next month, he said.

Concerns over the safety of peacekeepers have been growing due to the changing security landscape overseas as well as the spread of diseases that pose health risks to peacekeepers.

Prior to last week's attack on Filipino peacekeepers in the Golan Heights, some of the soldiers were wounded when bombs and munitions fell on their camp. A few months ago, a number of peacekeepers were also kidnapped by Syrian rebels.

In West Africa on the other hand, the spread of the Ebola virus threatens the Filipino soldiers maintaining peace there, prompting the government to consider their pullout from the region. PND (as)

Office of the Solicitor General presents top-notch lawyers

After the appointment of new Solicitor General Florin Hilbay last month, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) now presents its roster of solicitors ready to serve as government counsels.

Outgoing Solicitor General, now a Supreme Court justice, Francis Jardeleza joined Solicitor General Hilbay and the solicitors of the OSG for a photo opportunity with President Benigno S. Aquino III at the Palace Monday.

All of the solicitors of the OSG were bar top-notchers, recruited by Jardeleza, who was a 1974 bar top-notcher himself. Solicitor General Hilbay, who graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Law Batch 1999 was the 1st placer in the 1999 Bar Examinations.

The solicitors are:

Associate Solicitor Denise Dy-Flores, Ateneo de Manila University School of Law Batch 2008, 7th placer 2008 Bar Examinations;

Associate Solicitor Luz Danielle O. Bolong, Ateneo de Manila University School of Law Batch 2011, 2nd placer 2011 Bar Examinations; Associate Solicitor Christian Louie C. Gonzales, University of Santo Tomas College of Law Batch 2011, 5th placer 2011 Bar Examinations;

Associate Solicitor Ivan M. Bandal, Siliman University Batch 2011, 6th placer 2011 Bar Examinations; Associate Solicitor Irene Marie P. Qua, Ateneo de Manila University School of Law Batch 2011, 8th placer 2011 Bar Examinations; Associate Solicitor Ma. Graciela D. Base, University of the Philippines College of Law Batch 2012, 5th placer 2012 Bar Examinations;

Associate Solicitor Nielson G. Pangan, University of the Philippines College of Law Batch 2013, 1st placer 2013 Bar Examinations; Associate Solicitor Rudy V. Ortea, University of Batangas Batch 2013, 3rd placer 2013 Bar Examinations,

Associate Solicitor Tercel Maria Mercado-Gephart, University of San Carlos, 5th placer 2013 Bar Examinations; and Associate Solicitor Manuel Elijah S. Sarausad, University of Cebu Batch 2013, 6th placer 2013 Bar Examinations.

The Office of the Solicitor General is an independent and autonomous office attached to the Department of Justice.

The Solicitor General is the principal law officer and legal defender of the Government.

The OSG represents the government, its agencies and instrumentalities, and its officials and agents in any litigation, proceeding, or investigation on matters requiring the services of lawyers. PND (as)

Draft Bangsamoro Basic Law in final stages of refinement, peace adviser says

The draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is currently in the final stages of refinement and it will be submitted to Congress before President Benigno S. Aquino III leaves for Europe and the United States next week.

"The draft BBL is now undergoing final stages of refinement. By the estimate of the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) panel and Bangsamoro Transition Commission chair Mohagher Iqbal, the draft bill is now 99.99 percent done," Presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles said in a statement on Tuesday.

The presidential review of the draft Bangsamoro basic law was completed almost two weeks ago, based on the President's comments.

Both the government and the MILF panels have held discussions and exchanges of notes, and the results were also submitted to the President, Deles said.

The government and the MILF signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro last March, aiming to end the decades-long Muslim separatism in Mindanao.

Once the BBL is passed by Congress, a plebiscite will be held and a transition authority will be created prior to the holding of an election synchronized with the 2016 elections.

President Aquino has vowed to push for the holding of a fair and democratic election in 2016 that will elect leaders of the newly created Bangsamoro region. PND (as)

President Aquino orders investigation on bomb threat in NAIA Terminal 3

President Benigno S. Aquino III has ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the bomb threat at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3.

“Inatasan na ng Pangulo ang Department of Justice at NBI na magsagawa ng mas malalim na pagsisiyasat hinggil sa insidente sa NAIA Terminal 3 Lunes,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during Tuesday’s press briefing.

Coloma said that according to the DOJ, the four suspects arrested over the incident have undergone an inquest investigation.

“Ang nais lang nating sabihin sa kasalukuyan ay wala namang malubhang ligalig na dapat umiral dahil sa insidenteng ito. Sa pagkawari ng ating Pangulo at ng pamahalaan ay nasabat ang anumang panganib na maaaring idulot ng pangkat na ito, kaya nga’t masusing pinag-aaralan ang implikasyon ng naganap kahapon,” he said.

NBI agents on Monday arrested four men caught with improvised explosive devices inside a white Toyota Revo with plate number WMK-129, parked in Parking B in NAIA-3.

According to reports, the suspects apparently wanted to call the attention of the government regarding its stance on the country’s territorial dispute with China. PND (ag)

Palace: Gilas Pilipinas can still make it, let us support them

Malacañang is hopeful that the country’s Gilas Pilipinas basketball team could still qualify in the round of 16 in the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Seville, Spain.

“Patuloy nating suportahan ang kampanya ng koponang Gilas Pilipinas sa 2014 FIBA World Cup Basketball Championship. Tunay na kahanga-hanga ang ipinapakitang husay at tapang ng mga manlalarong Pilipino bagamat ang kalaban nila ay higit na malaki at matangkad na mga manlalaro,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during the daily press briefing on Tuesday.

Coloma said he believes that Gilas Pilipinas’ performance has been impressive despite its three straight losses under Group B.

In its first game against Croatia, the Philippine team lost during overtime, 81 – 78. In the second game, Greece defeated the team, 82 – 70, while in game 3, Gilas lost to Argentina, 85 – 81.

In Group B, the Philippines (ranked 34 by FIBA) and Puerto Rico (ranked 17th) now share the bottom of the bracket, each having three losses.

Greece (ranked 5th) is in the lead with three wins, followed by Argentina (3rd), Croatia (16th) and Senegal (41st), all three sharing the second spot with 2 wins and 1 loss.

The Philippines has waited four decades to reenter the FIBA World Cup competition.

“Kapag nagwagi ang Gilas Pilipinas sa kanilang huling dalawang laro, may pag-asa ang pangkat nating mabilang sa apat na koponan mula sa Group B na magtutunggali sa susunod na bahagi ng kompetisyon—ang Round of 16, na susundan ng Quarter-finals, Semi-finals, at Finals sa paraang knockout o direct elimination,” Coloma said.

He added that with the impressive performance of Gilas Pilipinas, hopes are still high.

“Hindi naman kahiya-hiya ang performance natin…siguro para sa aking mga kapwa basketball fans dito sasang-ayon kayo sa assessment na marami tayong dahilan para mag-cheer sa Gilas Pilipinas,” Coloma said. PND (ag)

Government agencies agree on measures for immediate decongestion of Port of Manila

Members of the Cabinet cluster for port decongestion, during a meeting on Tuesday morning, agreed on measures for the immediate decongestion of the Port of Manila, a Palace official has said.

In a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said the President prioritizes the immediate resolution of the problem of congestion in the Port of Manila.

The cluster meeting agreed that effective September 8, all cargoes cleared by the Philippine Ports Authority and Bureau of Customs will be given five days to pull out of the Manila ports or they will be shipped out by the government to the Subic and/or Batangas ports.

It also agreed that effective October 1, all cargoes that have been cleared by port authorities but have failed to pull out within the prescribed five-day period will be charged a fine of P5,000 a day.

Coloma further said that the meeting reached a resolution on the implementation of a 24-hour last-mile truck routes for two weeks.

"Ang isang susi dito kasi ang pag-operate ng mga truckers kapag araw ng Linggo at Lunes ng umaga, so they can maximize the utilization of the 24-hour last-mile truck routes," he said, adding that the government will give incentives to truckers who will operate on Sundays.

These truckers will be tagged by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) so they can use the 24-hour last-mile truck routes, he said, explaining that with the last-mile routes, truckers can complete their trip, even during the truck ban.

Truck routes that will be open 24/7 include the Roxas Boulevard and Quirino Avenue truck lanes going to the south and the A. Bonifacio C3 to NLEX truck lanes going to the north.

The Cabinet cluster for port decongestion is composed of the respective heads of the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Transportation and Communication, Department of Finance, Department of Trade and Industry, the National Economic and Development Authority, and the MMDA.

Joining them during Tuesday’s meeting were the respective heads of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, and the Bureau of Customs. PND (as)

Department of Energy calls for drafting of regional energy plans

In response to the President’s instruction for him to ensure that the growing need for energy is met, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla has called for the drafting of regional energy plans that would secure energy supply across the country.

“The need for regional energy planning is essential for us to explore potential energy sources and promote energy security across the nation,” Secretary Petilla said in a statement issued Tuesday.
During his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last August 28, President Benigno S. Aquino III noted that despite its efforts to ensure that the increasing demand for energy is met, the government has to prepare for power plant breakdowns and maintenance, the El Niño weather phenomenon and other “unforeseen events."

“We want to be completely ready so that we can avoid paralysis if the worst-case scenario arises. The goal: to have planned solutions for problems that will not arise until next year,” he said.

During the presentation of the Palawan Power Situationer and Outlook, Petilla said that for the province of Palawan, the Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded 25.08 megawatts of Renewable Energy projects and has pending applications for 5 megawatts of projects and 1.7 megawatts of potential renewable energy sites. Most of these projects use solar and hydro power.
The biggest project is the 10-megawatt Puerto Princesa City Solar Power Project, which was awarded to Enfinity Philippines Renewable Resources Inc.

He further said that for the province of Mindoro, the DOE has already awarded 189.3 megawatts worth of renewable energy projects, the biggest of which is the 48-megawatt Puerto Galera Wind Power Project of the Philippine Hybrid Energy Systems Inc.

Mindoro has 47.1 megawatts of potential renewable energy and 151.2 megawatts of potential biomass energy resources, owing to its extensive farmlands. Pitkin Petroleum operates Service Contract 53 to explore the island’s gas reserves, estimated at 76.36 billion cubic feet.

Petilla said the Palawan Energy Plan is undergoing review by the Energy Planning and Policy Bureau, while the Mindoro Island energy development plan is still being drafted.

The energy plans for Palawan and Mindoro are scheduled to be released by the last quarter of this year and January 2015, respectively. PND (ag)