Wednesday, 24 September 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

President Aquino meets US Rep. Joseph Kennedy III

(BOSTON, Massachusetts) President Benigno S. Aquino III met on Monday morning (Boston time) with United States Rep. Joseph Kennedy III at Bill’s Pizzeria in Newton.

Kennedy, who recently visited the Philippines, invited the President for a meeting if he travels to Massachusetts.

Kennedy is the grandson of the late US Sen. Robert Kennedy and grandnephew of US President John F. Kennedy.

The President's 30-minute meeting with Kennedy will be followed by business meetings with several American companies Monday afternoon based on his official schedule.

After that, the President will give a speech at Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Aside from meeting Kennedy, the President visited their former home here in Massachusetts located at 175 Commonwealth Ave. in Newton. The house is now owned by American Ione Malloy.

The Aquino family stayed at the residence starting 1980 to 1983 while former senator Benigno Aquino Jr, the President's father, was in exile during the Marcos dictatorship.

In his speech at Boston College on Sunday, the President recalled his fond memories in their house in Newton such his first winter in Massachusetts.

The President is expected to go to New York Monday evening after delivering his message at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. PND (as)

Government empowering people through education, better health care, says President Aquino

(CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts) The ultimate goal of the government is to empower the people through education, and better health care and social services so that they would enjoy equal opportunities, President Benigno S. Aquino III said at the Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government here Monday.

"The budget for most of our social services had been increased in multiples from the time we started in 2010," the President told students during a question-and-answer session after delivering a policy speech to discuss the present situation in the Philippines and the reform measures being undertaken by his administration.

"The Department of Health, for instance, has had something like a three-fold increase of their budget from the 2010 levels, precisely to shield our population from catastrophic illnesses that will devastate them," he added.

In terms of providing good education to the marginalized members of society, he said there is an alternative learning system that caters to the needs of migrant communities.

Teachers are embedded in these communities so that education is not stifled and could continue in those areas, he said.

Regarding the out-of-school youth, the President said the government is carrying out the Conditional Cash Transfer Program to ensure that young people stay in school.

"The Conditional Cash Transfer Program’s principal condition is that children should be kept in school, not just on the elementary level, but also on the secondary level. We have expanded the program this year to cover the secondary level," he explained.

He further said that the technical vocational sector of the Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA) gives young people skills that would land them good jobs in the job market, even if they merely completed high school.

The government tries to provide incentives to out-of-school youths to motivate them to continue their schooling, President Aquino said. PND (as)

President Aquino: West Philippine Sea claimants must adhere to rule of law

(CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts) President Benigno S. Aquino III, in a policy speech he delivered here Monday, underscored the importance of following the rule of law in resolving the dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The question the Philippines is facing is whether the consensus of the international community, as embodied by laws such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) would be upheld in resolving these claims, President Aquino told students of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

All signatories to the UNCLOS have bound themselves to the equitable delineation of maritime entitlements, he said, adding that this UN convention grants countries equal rights as well as obligations.

"As a founding member of the United Nations, we believe that its covenants, such as UNCLOS, and institutions, such as its International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, provide the most rational, just, and respectful mechanism for countries to find harmony, despite their differences," he noted.

Based on this principle, he said, the Philippine government drafted two tracks of action in addressing the dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

First, by continuously calling for the formulation of a binding code of conduct for the South China Sea, and second, through arbitration to clarify the maritime entitlements for all countries concerned.

"International law allows for a dignified and sustainable resolution to competing claims, as demonstrated by the recently concluded Bay of Bengal Maritime Boundary Arbitration," President Aquino said.

The Philippines is one of the claimant countries in the West Philippines Sea. Other countries with competing claims include China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, and Malaysia.

This year, the Philippines filed a memorial before the International Arbitral Tribunal to strengthen its case.

China, which has refused to participate in the arbitration, has been given until December 15 this year to submit a similar memorial to the international tribunal. PND (as)

President Aquino: It is not time to discuss politics

(CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts) President Benigno S. Aquino III said it is not time to talk about politics and that he would rather focus on addressing the needs of his people rather than think about the 2016 presidential elections.

"I still have about a year and nine months to go," the President said during a question-and-answer session after delivering a policy speech at the John F. Kennedy School of Government in Harvard University here Monday.

"If we are all concentrated just on the next elections rather than doing the things that we have to do now, we shouldn’t allow the distraction of the election to interfere with our obligations to our people," he said.

He noted that since he left Manila for an official tour of Europe and the United States, two typhoons have struck the country and Mayon Volcano has become restive.

“I think those have to be attended rather than jockeying for position in 2016," he pointed out.

The President also fended off criticisms hurled against his allies, saying that if his critics think his allies are dishonest and corrupt, they could charge them in court.

The Ombudsman in particular is ready to investigate complaints, even those coming from anonymous individuals, he said.

On naming a successor, the President said he believes there are a lot of individuals in the country qualified to become president.

He however indicated that he is not ready at this time to announce the candidate he will support in the country's next presidential polls. PND (as)

Young leaders would hopefully learn from the Philippines' transformation, President Aquino says

(CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday expressed hope that students of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government would learn from the transformation of the Philippines realized through good governance.

Delivering a policy speech at the school, President Aquino said he is determined to make the most of his six-year term that ends in 2016.

"Our challenge today is to make the gains even greater, and to ensure that the transformation becomes an enduring mainstream of justice and inclusiveness," he said.

"It is my hope that our experiences will motivate those like you, from the other side of the world, to be influencers, who in turn will inspire the communities and institutions with whom you will interact."

He emphasized that though leaders will be criticized for what they did, for what they did not do, and even for what they are about to do, they must always do the right thing.

They should persevere because giving up would mean allowing the shameless and the unscrupulous to have free reign over the fate of everyone, he said.

The President also mentioned the men and women in his government who came from the JFK School of Government: Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francisco Pangilinan, and Presidential Management Staff Secretary Julia Abad.

Chief Executive Officer of the Bases Conversion Development Authority Arnel Casanova, as well as the late interior and local government secretary Jesse Robredo were also fellows of the prestigious school. PND (as)

Authoritarianism does not solve a country's problems, says President Aquino

(CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts) Dictatorship is not the solution to a country's problems, President Benigno S. Aquino III said during a discussion with students of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government here Monday.

President Aquino was responding to an Indonesian student, who asked him about his views on authoritarianism.

The President said Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is a close friend, who advises him when he is confronted with complicated problems.

Indonesia serves as a role model for him, he said, adding that this is because Indonesia’s population is larger than that of the Philippines.

"Having said that, a dictatorship can never be a good solution. The person, no matter how good, good-intentioned, how thoroughly prepared, will have an absence of a check and balance; and, again, man is an imperfect being so his good will happen right away and his bad will be exacerbated," he said.

The President's father, former senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., defied the Marcos dictatorship and it cost him his life.

He also recounted the healing process that the nation has been undergoing after the dark years of martial rule, especially the granting of compensation to victims of human rights abuses.

The country's lawmakers have passed the Human Rights Compensation Bill, in which the state recognizes its obligation to nurture and protect its citizens, the President said.

"And after that, there is an award for recognition of the same, so that there is compensation for what was inflicted upon our people," he said, adding this state recognition also puts on record individual accounts of what rights were violated during the dark days of Martial Law.

"The end point being, we learn the lessons so that we do not have a situation that repeats itself, that really brought our country to the depths that it had entered into," President Aquino said. PND (as)

Palace confident 2015 National Budget will be passed within the year

The Palace has expressed confidence that the 2015 National Budget will be passed within the year.

“We are confident with the leadership of (House of Representatives) Speaker Sonny Belmonte that the House will be able to pass the budget based on the calendar… for the approval of the 2015 National Budget,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters during Tuesday’s press briefing in MalacaƱang.

Lacierda said that the Palace is thankful that the House was able to muster a quorum on Monday.

“Hopefully, the quorum will continue until the last day of the plenary session on the approval of the budget in the lower house,” he said.

Lacierda was commenting on reports that Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco has threatened to continue questioning the quorum of the day if Budget Secretary Florencio Abad fails to release the detailed report on which legislators received funding through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Speaker Belmonte on Thursday called on Liberal Party leaders to ask their members to attend the budget deliberations to prevent a reenacted budget. PND (ag)

President Aquino welcomes ‘new blood’ in Philippine politics

(CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts) President Benigno S. Aquino III has said he welcomes the thought of having new people in government as he remains positive toward signing the Anti-Political Dynasty Bill into law.

“At the end of the day, new blood has to bring new ideas, new methodologies, new energies that perhaps can improve on that which was already set,” President Aquino told students of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government during a forum held here Monday.

The President was responding to a student’s question on the presence of political dynasties in the Philippines and how people who do not come from such dynasties could have a fair shot at winning in the polls.

“First of all, there are already measures before Congress and I’m about to pass the Anti-Dynasty Law in furtherance of the Constitution,” he said.

The President also reiterated his previous observation that some politicians may be put at a disadvantage, even if they are doing something right and not just relying on the good reputation attached to their famous name.

“To forestall the possibility that there will be abuse of situations, then perhaps we should make sure that, at some point—if not, perhaps after their term limits—there is a whole new set (of leaders) who will be bringing in ideas that hopefully will build upon that which is already developed,” he said.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate are deliberating on their respective versions of the Anti-Political Dynasty Bill, which has recently gained steady backing from other politicians as well. PND (hdc)