Thursday, 30 October 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Saturday, October 18, 2014

National Economic Development Authority approves major infrastructure projects in 15th board meeting

The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Board approved several infrastructure projects during its 15th board meeting presided by President Aquino on Friday, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said.

Among the approved projects include the Cagayan de Oro River Flood Risk Management Project, P8.55 billion; Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue / Makati Avenue / Paseo de Roxas Vehicles Underpass Project, P1.27 billion; Restoration of the Bohol Circumferential Road bridges, P0.81 billion; and Metro Manila Interchange Construction Project Phase VI, P4.01 billion and the Laguna Lakeshore Expressway-Dike Project, P122.81 billion.

Under the transportation department, among those approved were Airport operations, maintenance and development projects of the following airports: Iloilo airport, P30.40 billion; Bacolod Airport, P20.26 billion; Davao Airport, P40.57 billion; and Puerto Princesa Airport, P5.23 billion.

The NEDA board also approved the P18.9-billion Davao Sasa Port Modernization project.

Also approved Friday was the P50.1-billion Regional Prison Facilities under the Department of Justice. The project will be implemented under the public-private partnership (PPP) scheme.

The board also approved the P1.8 billion Fisheries, Coastal Resources and Livelihood Project for the Department of Agriculture, as well as the P2.2-billion Convergence on Value Chain Enhancement for Rural Growth and Empowerment Project under the Department of Agrarian Reform.

The Communications Secretary said the President also directed the Cabinet and NEDA members to focus on completing similar ongoing projects and on laying the groundwork for sustainable, long-term economic development and inclusive growth. PND (as)

Military to step up campaign against Abu Sayyaf after release of German hostages, says Palace

Government forces will intensify its campaign against the Abu Sayyaf Group after the release of two German nationals it held captive for several months.

"With the release from captivity of the two German nationals, our security forces will continue efforts to stem the tide of criminality perpetrated by bandit elements," Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said in a statement Saturday.

"Kasunod ng pagligtas ng mga binihag na dalawang mamamayang Aleman, ipagpapatuloy ng mga puwersang pang seguridad ang pagtugis at pagsabat sa mga grupong bandido."

In a radio interview Saturday morning, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said President Aquino was glad that the foreign hostages were release on Friday evening.

"Natuwa naman po ang Pangulo sa magandang balita na na-release ang mga German hostages," Valte told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

"As we have said in the past, the primary concern is the safety of the hostages and the President was happy to receive the news yesterday when he was informed that the two German hostages have already been recovered at around 9:00 p.m. last night," she added.

According to Valte, the President's concern was about the physical condition of the German hostages and the President was informed that the hostages will undergo medical check up at a military camp in Jolo.

After that they will be transported to Zamboanga City where they will be given more medical attention before they are arranged for a flight to Manila, Valte added.

Asked about the payment of ransom for the release of the hostages, Valte said she cannot confirm that information noting that the government has a longstanding policy for non-payment of ransom to terrorist groups.

The ASG released Stefan Okonek, 71, and Henrite Dielen, in her 50s, on the day the group had threatened to kill one of them.

The rebels had demanded ransom and for Germany to stop supporting US-led air strikes in Syria and Iraq. They threatened to kill Okonek on Friday if their demands were not met.

The Germans were seized by the ASG in April when their yacht broke down near the southern island of Palawan en route to Sabah in eastern Malaysia. PND (as)

Palace says DOJ's inquiry on Binays within its mandate

The Palace said it supports the investigation being done by the Department of Justice on the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Binay family noting that the department is just doing its mandate.

"Si Secretary (Leila) de Lima po at ang DOJ ay ginagawa lang naman ang kanilang mandato—klaruhin po natin ‘yon—dahil, katulad po ng nabanggit natin last week, mahirap naman pong mayroong nagiging isyu na hindi nila ginagawa ang kanilang mandato," Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview Saturday.

"The DOJ is only executing its mandate; and as such, siyempre, sinusuportahan natin ang DOJ at ang kahit anong ahensya na ginagawa lamang ang kanilang trabaho and that they are only carrying out their duty and their mandate under relevant laws," Valte told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

The Palace official denied that politics is involved in the ongoing inquiry, adding that Secretary de Lima does not work based on personality but on the facts and circumstances that have been presented.

Asked to comment on De Lima's statement saying that only the President can stop her, Valte said it is logical because the President is De Lima's direct superior.

"Perhaps it was just a nod, kaysa naman po sabihin ni Secretary de Lima na walang makakapigil na kahit sino. If you take those two statements, it was just a nod and an acknowledgment that she is an alter ego of a higher position. I don’t think she intended to drag the President into anything," she said.

The Senate is conducting an inquiry on the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall construction during Vice President Binay's term as city mayor. Authorities are also looking at the Binays' reported properties in Batangas. PND (as)

Palace welcomes planned training of local health workers to fend off Ebola virus

Malacanang welcomed the plan training by foreign experts of the Filipino health workers as nations step up their defenses against Ebola virus.

It was reported that the first batch of foreign experts who will train local health workers will arrive in the Philippines soon.

"Magandang bagay ‘yan, darating na ang mga foreign experts on infectious diseases to come and train our doctors and nurses on how to prevent the spread of anyone infected with the Ebola virus," Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

"Maganda ito, it shows that we’re being proactive kahit wala ito, at hopefully, hindi lumanding sa ating mga shores. Kahit po wala ito ay nagiging proactive tayo sa ating paghahanda."

Relatedly, Valte said the government is also ready to address concerns of Filipino nurses to adjust their pay and improve their working conditions.

Hundreds of nurses held a rally in Manila demanding higher salary and better working condition.

Valte said that with regard to compensation issues, it is a budgetary matter that has to be addressed and at the same time, it is a policy issue that should be discussed by the leadership of the Department of Health.

"But ‘yung sa better working condition, siyempre, lahat naman tayo gusto natin na mas maganda ang working conditions ng ating mga kababayan. At kung may specific issues, I’m sure that handa pong makinig ang DOH sa kanila," she said.

At the same time, Valte said the government continues to hire nurses through the Registered Nurses for Health Enhancement and Local Service (RN-HEALS).

Under the program, nurses having difficulty finding jobs can be employed. They are given allowances while they gain extensive experience they need, she added. PND (as)

Olongapo murder, VFA review must be treated separately, says Palace

Malacanang clarified that the issue on Jennifer Laude's killing and the review of the Visiting Forces Agreement must be treated separately.

Some quarters says the quest for justice for Laude's murder may be compromised because of the country's defense agreement with the US.

"The issue for Jennifer should be treated separately. Because the issue on the VFA and calls for its abrogation, (as well as) calls for its review should be discussed on a different level," Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview on Saturday.

"Kasi iba po ‘yung pinag-uusapan diyan, marami hong considerations when you talk about the review of a particular agreement that we have with another sovereign country," she added.

And as far as the investigation on Laude's death is going, there is a process that everyone has to follow to the letter to make sure that there are no technical aspects that are being forgotten, Valte said.

It would also be a disservice to Laude if prosecutors rush things and in the end lose the case because of technical issues, she said.

Also on Saturday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the US Embassy received the subpoena for US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton to appear at the preliminary investigation in the Laude murder.

Pemberton is the prime suspect in the alleged killing last week of Laude in an Olongapo City hotel. PND (as)

President Aquino to lead 70th anniversary of Leyte Landing

President Benigno S. Aquino III will lead Monday the 70th anniversary of the Leyte Landing that liberated the country from Japanese rule, the Palace said on Saturday.

The Philippines will mark Monday, October 20, the 70th anniversary of the Leyte landing, when US General Douglas MacArthur returned to the Philippines to liberate it from Japanese occupation.

On the morning of October 20, 1944, American forces led by General MacArthur landed on Red Beach in the municipality of Palo, near Tacloban, Leyte.

The invasion of Leyte began the campaign for the liberation of the Philippines from the Imperial Japanese forces, fulfilling MacArthur’s promise to return to the Philippines more than two years earlier.

The Leyte landing also marked the re-establishment of the Commonwealth Government on Philippine soil after years of government-in-exile in the United States.

The Battle of Leyte lasted from October 20 to December 31, 1944, resulting in a victory for the Allied forces.

It is also a milestone in the war in the Pacific that culminated in the end of almost three years of Japanese occupation of the Philippines. PND (as)