President Aquino vows relentless pursuit of Abu Sayyaf Group
President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Monday that the government will relentlessly pursue the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) as it has strained the country’s relationship with its neighbors.
"Wala nang safe area (from the Abu Sayyaf); talagang kailangan walang tigil ang paghahabol sa kanila. At ‘yan ang ongoing ngayon," the President said during a media interview in Palo, Leyte, where he commemorated the 70th anniversary of the landing in the province of Allied forces led by General Douglas MacArthur during World War II.
"Masyadong matagal nang problema itong Abu Sayyaf na ito… It affects our relationships with various neighboring states, na wala silang humpay at palagay ko naman dapat rin tapatan ng estado na walang humpay ang pagtugis sa kanila," he said.
German nationals Viktor Stefan Okonek, 71, and Henrike Dieter, 55, were abducted by the group in April after their yacht broke down near the island of Palawan while en route to Sabah in eastern Malaysia.
The couple was released last Friday (October 17) after a ransom was reportedly paid to ASG.
Asked by reporters if government funds were part of the ransom to free the German couple, the President replied: "Nothing came from the Office of the President. I can assure you that. I didn’t authorize anything from the Office of the President."
"Ang focus ko doon ay ‘yung Abu Sayyaf rather than the ransom. ‘Yon ang tinatrabaho ko together with the (Armed Forces) Chief of Staff, the Chief of the PNP (Philippine National Police), the SND (Secretary of National Defense), and the SILG (Secretary of Interior and Local Government)," he added. PND (ag)
President Aquino: Visiting Forces Agreement need not be revoked
President Benigno S. Aquino III said Monday there is no need to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) just because of the “sin of one person”.
"Bakit natin kailangan i-abrogate ‘yung VFA? I mean, name me any place that doesn’t have crime. And should the sin of one person be reflective of the entire country? I don’t think so,” the President said during a media interview in Palo, Leyte following the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the landing in the province of Allied forces led by General Douglas MacArthur during World War II.
“Ang importante dito, mayroong krimen na nangyari, kunin lahat ang ebidensiyang magpapatunay na ang may salarin ang may kasalanan dito, at magkaroon tayo ng katarungan,” he said.
Asked for an update on the government’s request to get custody of Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, who is suspected of killing transgender Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude, the Chief Executive said Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and United States Ambassador to Manila Philip Goldberg are working to resolve the issue.
"They are working on resolving this issue, ‘yung custody. And at the very least making sure, based on the treaty again, that he is available or the suspects are available for both investigation in any and all judicial processes," he said. PND (ag)
President Aquino leads commemoration of 70th year of Leyte Gulf Landing
(PALO, Leyte) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday paid tribute to the country’s forefathers who fought and died during the liberation of the Philippines from Japanese rule.
In his speech during the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Leyte Gulf Landing here, President Aquino said the occasion was also an opportunity to “recognize the goodwill we now extend to those who were once our enemies.”
“Beyond cataloguing the horrors of war, let us honor the peace that has reigned among our nations for close to 70 years. Let us renew our commitment to the strong and enduring friendships between the Philippines and its wartime allies, and perhaps most meaningfully, the countries that were once its foes,” he said.
President Aquino said countries that were enemies during World War II have united as friends to help the Filipino people recover from the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda in November last year.
“Through these friendships, we saw, just last year, vessels bearing the proud names of those that had fought at Leyte Gulf, once more journeying to the Philippines: Ise from Japan, Washington and Denver from America,” he said.
He recalled that 70 years ago, ships with these names engaged in battle, seeking to eliminate the threat of the other.
However, in November last year, they came here as partners to demonstrate their unity with the Filipino people at a time of tragedy, the President said.
“Typhoon Haiyan saw countries who belonged to the Allied and Axis Forces, all once characters in a great war, united as friends in their desire to help the Filipino people,” he said.
The event, held at the MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park here, marked the 70th year since US General Douglas MacArthur returned to the Philippines to free the country from its Japanese invaders.
This year’s theme was "Leyte 1944, Leyte 2014: Yesterday’s Heroes, Today’s Inspiration on the Road to Recovery.”
“Thus, today, as we salute those who gave their lives here at Red Beach, and as we continue a pilgrimage of memory that began in Bataan and Corregidor, and which culminates in Manila next year, we remember the brave; we mourn the dead; and most of all, we commit to peace as the true legacy of a conflict that should never be repeated, and look to a shared future, founded on the trust we now extend towards each nation of good will, and nourished by the freedom we so cherish,” President Aquino said.
Also present at the ceremony were US Ambassador Philip Goldberg, British Ambassador Asif Ahmad, Australian Ambassador Bill Tweddell, and representatives of Japan, New Zealand, and Canada. PND (co)
President Aquino visits IT-BPM company in Palo, Leyte
(PALO, Leyte) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday visited Freight Process Outsourcing Solutions, Incorporated (FPOSI), the first information technology - business process management company in Leyte province to operate in full scale after Typhoon Yolanda damaged its facility and equipment.
President Aquino paid a visit to the facility of FPOSI, located at the Leyte Mikyu Economic Zone in Pawing, Palo, after attending the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Leyte Landing here.
“Para sa akin, significant na may investor na imbes na nag-isip na lumikas ng lugar ay bumalik dito at itinayo ulit,” he said during an interview with members of the press.
Accredited by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, the FPOSI handles the bills processing of freight and forwarding companies.
The company, which is a part of the Direct Data Capture Inc. (DDC Group of Companies), employs some 1,050 personnel. PND (co)
Government to turn over 1,100 housing units next month
(PALO, Leyte) President Benigno S. Aquino III said Monday the government is set to turn over 1,100 permanent housing units next month for communities affected by Typhoon Yolanda.
During an interview with members of the media after attending the 70th a. nniversary of the Leyte Landing here, President Aquino said a total of 120,000 housing units are targeted this year for Yolanda-affected areas.
“The target number of housing units for the current calendar year is 120,000 units for 4B, 5, 6, 7, 8, and CARAGA. Ngayon, a total of 56,140 units or 47 percent of the total has been allocated for the six provinces of Region 8,” he said.
President Aquino also said that according to Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, many typhoon survivors have already been transferred from their temporary tent shelters.
“May natitirang ilan-ilan; at ang ilan-ilan raw ay mga mangingisda na ang gusto sana ay manatili doon sa lugar na ‘yon para malapit sa kanilang kabuhayan,” the President said.
“So, nakipag-deal ang DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) na magtatayo ng mga nipa huts para doon sa mga bangka nila para ma-secure, pero ang mga tirahan nila sa looban na mas safe,” he added.
As of September, he said, the Department of Budget and Management has released more than P40 billion to various national government agencies, government-owned and controlled corporations, and local government units for the implementation of relief and rehabilitation programs and projects for Yolanda-affected areas. PND (co)