Thursday, 30 October 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, October 30, 2014

President Aquino approves P167.9-billion rehabilitation plan for Eastern Visayas

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Wednesday approved the P167.9-billion Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP), which shows the government’s commitment to rebuild areas in Eastern Visayas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda last year.

"Upon the recommendation of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery and the favorable endorsement of the National Economic Development Authority, the President approved yesterday 29 October 2014 the 8,000-page Yolanda Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan, which outlines the National Government’s commitment to implement over 25,000 rehabilitation and recovery specific plans and programs and activities," Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

Secretary Coloma said the recovery plan and activities are envisioned to bring forth the recovery of the 171 affected cities and municipalities in 14 provinces and six regions, known as the “Yolanda corridor”, based on the "build-back-better” principle.

The recovery plan focuses on long-term and sustainable efforts to reduce vulnerabilities and strengthen the capacities of communities to cope with future hazard events, he added.

The rebuilding efforts require a total amount of P167.9 billion aimed at restoring infrastructure, settlements and basic community facilities, livelihood, and the resilience of vulnerable communities, Coloma said.

The P167.9 billion is broken down into P35.1 billion for infrastructure; P26.4 billion for social services; P75.7 billion for resettlement; and P30.6 billion for livelihood. PND (as)

Palace defends two Cabinet members linked to alleged overpricing of Iloilo Convention Center

Malacañang said Thursday it believes the two Cabinet secretaries being implicated in the alleged overpricing in the construction of the P700-million Iloilo Convention Center, could defend themselves and do not need to take a leave of absence.

"We don’t see any reason to do that," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said when asked whether it is necessary for Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson and Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez to take a leave of absence.

The two Cabinet secretaries have been named as co-respondents when Manuel Mejorada, Jr. filed criminal and administrative charges against Senate President Franklin Drilon at the Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday over the alleged overpricing of the Iloilo Convention Center.

"Secretary Babes Singson is very confident that the bidding process undertaken for the Iloilo Convention Center was above board," Lacierda told reporters during a press briefing at the Palace.

He said he did not know why Mejorada had to name Secretary Jimenez as a co-respondent.

"I think this was a personal feud by that person and Senator Frank Drilon. But you know, maybe to carry more media mileage, he decided to sue Secretary Singson and Secretary Jimenez. But Secretary Singson has already said he can easily defend the bidding process," Lacierda said.

He further said that Malacañang will leave it to Senator Drilon to defend himself in court, noting that the legislator has in previous interviews expressed his confidence in hurdling the case against him.
The Iloilo Convention Center, Drilon’s pet project, is being built by Hilmarc’s Construction Corp., the contractor of the allegedly overpriced Makati parking building. PND (as)

Palace thanks Congressmen for passing 2015 national budget

Malacañang has expressed its gratitude to the House of Representatives for approving the P2.6-trillion 2015 national budget, which will now be sent to the Senate for deliberations.

"We’d like to thank the House of Representatives for the speedy resolution and passing of the 2015 budget in their chamber," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during Thursday’s press briefing at the Palace.

"Now, the process of budget approval goes to the Senate, and we also hope that the Senate will look into the budget, and we hope that before the year-end, the budget will be approved," he added.

On criticisms that the administration has railroaded the approval of the 2015 budget, Lacierda said the proposed budget shows where the public funds are going.

“Our budget is designed to ensure the continuation of social services to our countrymen and also to make measures, improve the current infrastructure that we have, to make sure that we will have a better climate for investment, he said.

He further said that the proposed budget was crafted so that the poorest of the poor will not be left behind.

"That’s our main goal, and we will continue to do so, despite all this noise from the Makabayan bloc," Lacierda said.

The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved the P2.606 trillion budget for 2015 on third and final reading, despite opposition from Party list lawmakers. PND (as)

Government has funds to build new settlements for victims of Typhoon Yolanda, says official

The government has the funds and is ready to build new settlements for victims of Typhoon Yolanda but the challenge is finding the right location to construct those new houses, a Palace official has said.

"The NHA (National Housing Authority) is prepared to do so much housing units. We have the funds for that. Again, the issue here is always on the local government side,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during a press briefing in Malacañang on Thursday.

Secretary Lacierda said local government units have to identify the land on which the permanent housing structures will be built but they have to ensure that the new location is safe from storm surges.

The government, he said, also wants to ensure that the housing structures could withstand typhoons as strong as Yolanda.

Upon the recommendation of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery, President Benigno S. Aquino III on Wednesday approved the P167.9-billion Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP) for communities devastated by Typhoon Yolanda.

The 8,000-page rehabilitation plan outlines the government’s commitment to carry out more than 25,000 specific plans, programs and activities, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. has said.

Secretary Coloma said that according to the Office of the Executive Secretary, the Department of Budget and Management has released P51.98 billion since November 2013.

The money came from the national budget, as authorized by the General Appropriations Act. PND (as)

Malacañang bids farewell to former Senator Juan Flavier

Malacanang extended its condolences to the families of former Senator Juan Flavier who died after multiple organ failure and sepsis brought about by pneumonia at around 4 p.m. Thursday.

"We join the Filipino people in mourning the death of former Senator and Health Secretary Juan Flavier. As a public servant, he championed the cause of countryside development and upgrading the quality of public health care," said Presidential Communication Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., in a statement emailed to members of the Malacañang Press Corps.

The former health secretary turned Senator was 79 years old.

In 1992, he was appointed by former President Fidel V. Ramos to head the Department of Health. In 1995, he ran for Senate under the administration ticket.

Flavier was best known for the catchphrase "Let's DOH it," which he used to promote the department's programs.

He was considered the poorest Senator as reflected in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth.

"He served with integrity and endeared himself to the people by dint of his humility, simplicity, jovial character and common touch. Truly, he was an exemplary Filipino leader," Coloma added. PND (ag)

Malacañang confirms Health Secretary Ona's leave of absence

Malacañang confirmed on Thursday that Health Secretary Enrique Ona took a leave of absence due to health reason.

"Si Secretary Ike Ona ay nag-leave muna for health and personal reasons. May mga nagtatanong kung nag-resign siya, hindi. Naka-leave lang siya," said Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Laciera in a press briefing.

He added that Undersecretary Janette Garin is now the Officer-In-Charge of the health department.

When asked if Ona's leave will hamper works in preventing Ebola Virus entering the country, Lacierda said the work on Ebola is a multi-agency task force and will not be crippled with the absence of the head of agency.

"Insofar as the Department of Health is concerned, there are personnel who are handling that issue on the Ebola. So we’ve seen protocols, we’ve seen preparations being done by the Department of Health, even in the—even as Secretary Ike Ona takes a leave of absence," said Lacierda.

Lacierda credited Secretary Ona both for the increase of the PhilHealth coverage and the number of vaccinations.

According to reports, Ona's leave will be from October 23 to November 27. PND (ag)