Tuesday, 2 September 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Wednesday, August 27, 2014

President Aquino appoints U.P. Professor as Acting Solicitor General

President Benigno S. Aquino III has appointed Senior State Solicitor and University of the Philippines (UP) Associate Professor Florin T. Hilbay as Acting Solicitor General, Malacañang announced on Wednesday.

Hilbay earned his degree in Economics from the University of Santo Tomas in 1995, his law degree from UP in 1999, and his Master of Laws from Yale Law School in 2005.

As Senior State Solicitor, Hilbay argued and won the case for the Reproductive Health Law before the Supreme Court in 2013. He teaches Constitutional Law and Philosophy of Law at the UP College of Law and serves as editor of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Journal. He was editor-in-chief of the Philippine Law & Society Review from 2010 to 2013.

Before joining the Office of the Solicitor General, he was Director of the Institute of Government and Law Reform of the UP Law Center from 2011 to 2013, and was vice-chair of Bantay Katarungan, an organization led by former Senate President Jovito Salonga, from 2003 to 2012.

He replaces former Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, who was appointed as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court early this month. PND (ag)

Government working to improve MRT, LRT services

The government is paying close attention to the problems of the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and the Light Rail Transit (LRT) to ensure the best service to commuters, a Palace official said on Wednesday.

"That is the reason why talagang inaasikaso ngayon ito. ‘Yung maintenance pinag-aaralan. Matatapos na yata ‘yung maintenance ng bagong maintenance provider," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during a press briefing in Malacanang.

"Matatapos na ang kontrata ‘nung maintenance provider. So these are concerns of the DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communications) and LRT."

Lacierda also said that LRT administrator and MRT3 officer-in-charge Honorito Chaneco has explained the current situation of the MRT and LRT during a hearing at the House of Representatives.

An LRT train stalled at the Pedro Gil Station in Manila on Wednesday (August 27) morning while the MRT-3 had to suspend operations at noon on Saturday (August 23) following a communications system breakdown.

Two weeks ago, a defective MRT train crashed into a barrier at the Taft Station, injuring more than 30 passengers. PND (as)
Palace commends PCGG for recovery of USD 42 million from Marcos’ Arelma account

Malacañang has commended the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) for the recovery of USD 42 million from the so-called Arelma Foundation account of former president Ferdinand Marcos.

“We would like to commend the PCGG under Chairman Andres Bautista. They were able to recover such a big amount. That is money from the people and that money should really go back to where it can be used for the people,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters during Wednesday’s press briefing in Malacañang.

The Sandiganbayan’s Special Division on Wednesday morning directed the transfer of the fund from the Philippine National Bank to the Bureau of Treasury.

The USD 42 million, part of the Marcos assets, was deposited with Merrill Lynch Securities in New York in 1972 under the name of the Arelma Foundation.

The PCGG filed a petition for forfeiture at the Sandiganbayan on December 17, 1991, involving USD 356 million in alleged “ill-gotten wealth” of the Marcoses, and two treasury notes valued at USD 25 million and USD 5 million.

On April 25, 2012, the Supreme Court ordered the forfeiture of all assets, properties and funds belonging to the Arelma Foundation in favor of the government.

Imelda Marcos, on behalf of the late President, filed a motion for reconsideration, which the High Tribunal dismissed on March 12, 2014.

Lacierda said the government is confident that it will recover other assets from the Marcoses.

“Overall, we certainly hope that whatever was stolen from the Filipino people would be returned to its rightful owner,” he added. PND (ag)

Government ready to hold dialogue with water providers, regulators to ensure sufficient water supply

The government will work with water providers in Metro Manila as well as other stakeholders to mitigate the impact of a looming water shortage next year due to the El Niño weather phenomenon, a Palace official said Wednesday.

Maynilad and Manila Water recently complained after the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) allowed the release of water to irrigate parts of Bulacan. They argued that this threatens the supply of water in Metro Manila.

In a press briefing in Malacañang, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the concerns of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), Maynilad, and Manila Water are for long-term water supply.

"They are looking at a situation where there is a possibility that there will be a water shortage, and for that particular reason, we are all with them in proactively making sure that we try to conserve water," Lacierda told reporters.

"There is a concern because of El Niño—a possible El Niño—by the end of this year or by early next year, and so people should be prepared for this particular concern."

He however assured the public that the government is already addressing the problem, and as such, Maynilad, Manila Water, as well as government officials in charge of water security, are ready to hold a dialogue to ensure enough water supply in the metropolis.

He said the NWRB will certainly be able to explain its decision to release irrigation water in Bulacan.

“I understand that because of the irrigation, they were able to save some of the agricultural lands in Bulacan,” Lacierda said. PND (as)

No basis to impeach the President, people still supportive of 'daang matuwid' agenda, says official

The Palace believes there is no basis for the impeachment complaints filed against President Benigno S. Aquino III, whose reform agenda still has the support of the people, an official said Wednesday.

"We believe that there is no basis for that," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing.

The House of Representatives’ justice committee said on Tuesday that the three impeachment complaints filed against the President are sufficient in form, which means that the complaints meet the requirements for submitting a verified complaint under impeachment rules.

Opponents of the administration are entitled to their own opinion and they can take the advantage of the process that is enshrined in the Constitution, Lacierda said.

"That is understandable. That is how the Constitution has provided a mechanism for that," he said.

"But the majority of the Filipino people are with us in the ‘tuwid na daan.' We believe that the President has not done any impeachable offense," he added.

Lacierda further said that the members of Congress will see no merit in the allegations against the President.

While the deliberations are important proceedings in Congress, he said the Palace is more concerned with the country’s problems than with the impeachment complaints.

"What we are more concerned with is really how to address all the concerns of the country that affect our countrymen," he said. PND (as)

Palace on worsening traffic: Be patient, we are working on it

Malacañang on Wednesday apologized for the worsening traffic situation in Metro Manila brought about by heavy rains, drainage system improvements, and road repairs.

“Siguro maraming kailangang gawin sa kalye. Siguro nagkakataon lang ‘yan nagkakasabay-sabay at humihingi kami ng paumanhin sa publiko. Marami tayong mga kalyeng inaayos po. Marami tayong mga drainage na inaayos rin po,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during the daily press briefing at the Palace.

“Sumasabay din minsan ang pag-aayos ng MWSS, or Maynilad, or ng Manila Water. We are improving the quality of the roads, so maraming mga bagay na talagang kailangan gawin, and ‘yon din po talaga ang nakaka-frustrate sa tao, sa traffic, kasi lahat tayo dumadaan naman sa kalye and so, we ask for patience, but these things have to be done,” he added.

He said that all these works would result in improved drainage systems and better roads, and hence, better flow of traffic.

Last July, the Metro Manila Development Authority identified 22 flood-prone areas in Metro Manila that the public should avoid, particularly during rush hours and heavy rains.

They include España-Antipolo-Maceda, R. Papa-Rizal Avenue, P. Burgos-Manila City Hall in Manila; the Osmeña-Skyway northbound and southbound, Buendia-South Superhighway northbound and southbound, and EDSA-Pasong Tamo-Magallanes in Makati; EDSA-North Avenue, North Avenue in front of Trinoma Mall, NLEX-Balintawak, Quezon Avenue-Victory Avenue/Biak na Bato, and Philcoa area in Quezon City. PND (ag)