President Aquino receives Bahraini Prime Minister in courtesy call
President Benigno S. Aquino III received Prince Khalifa bin Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa of Bahrain during a courtesy call at Malacañang Palace on Wednesday.
The Bahraini prince has served as Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain since its independence in 1971.
He is the second son of the former ruler of Bahrain Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa and the uncle of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa.
The Philippines and Bahrain established their formal diplomatic ties in 1978 but prior to that, the people and governments of both countries have interacted closely on all fronts and at all levels of cooperation.
Bahrain is host to 40,000 Filipino workers and its government has implemented programs and policies that are beneficial to the Filipino community.
On the economic front, Bahrain ranks as the Philippines’ 79th trading partner, 65th export market, and 101st import supplier.
Philippine exports to Bahrain include aviation fuel, aircraft parts, household machines, and pasta. Imports from the kingdom include aluminum alloys, motor cars and other motor vehicles, plastic trunks, and woven fabrics of synthetic staple fibers.
The Bahraini Prime Minister was accompanied by his sons, Sheikh Khalifa bin Rashed Al Khalifa and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashed Al Khalifa.
The Prime Minister’s economic advisor, Abdullah Hasan Saif, was also present.
Joining President Aquino were National Economic and Development Authority Deputy Director General Margarita Songco, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Julius Torres, and Special Envoy of the President to the Gulf Cooperation Council Amable Aguiluz. PND (as)
Palace says it still trusts National Police Chief General Purisima
Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Alan Purisima still has the moral ascendancy to oversee the police force, despite the allegations being hurled against him, the Palace said on Wednesday.
During a press briefing in Malacañang, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda was asked if General Purisima remains morally fit to lead the PNP.
"Yes, I believe so. As the head PNP official, it is his mandate to address all these issues on peace and order and it is in his mandate to reform the PNP organization," Lacierda told reporters.
The Palace still trusts Purisima because he has made a number of reforms in the police organization, he said, citing as examples the continuing improvement on the system of reporting crimes, as well as disciplining erring policemen.
He said Purisima has pledged to personally handle the “scalawags” in the police force, and has encouraged the public to report to him police abuses.
"That is something that you can hold General Purisima to. It is important for us," Lacierda said.
"Remember, when he assumed office, he already mentioned that all those scalawags would beware and you can rest assured that if there are any complaints against any police personnel, we can rely on General Purisima’s commitment to rid the PNP of the scalawags," he added. PND (as)
Palace gives Filipino peacekeepers assigned in Golan Heights a hero’s welcome
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Wednesday morning gave the 330 members of the 7th Philippine Contingent to Golan Heights a hero’s welcome in Malacañang Palace, expressing his heartfelt gratitude to them for accomplishing their tour of duty.
“Talagang nakadagdag kayo sa puri at sa dangal ng ating Inang Bayan, kaya naman dapat kayong talagang pasalamatan. At sa ngalan nga ng sambayanan, ako na ho ang nagpapasalamat para sa kanilang lahat,” the President told members of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) who stood their ground during a standoff with Syrian rebels last August.
He recounted that a year-and-a-half ago, 21 Filipino peacekeepers were captured – but eventually released – by Syrian rebels, prompting the government to question the actual mission of the Filipino peacekeepers in the Golan Heights.
He said he requested that the peacekeepers be equipped with high-powered firearms due to the presence of rebels in the area covered by their mission but this was denied.
“Mga two weeks bago nangyari itong standoff, nagkaroon na ho ng desisyon na meron tayong obligasyon sa pandaigdigang komunidad na tapusin na lang natin ang obligasyon nating pinasukan, at pagkatapos noon ay umuwi na,” he said, adding that as commander-in-chief, he did not want to send Filipino troops on a “mission impossible.”
The President said that the government will wait for the conclusion of a UN investigation on the incident before sending peacekeepers on future missions.
“Hinihintay natin ngayon ang imbestigasyon ng UN tungkol sa nangyaring insidente at ito ang magiging basehan kung tayo’y makikisama pa sa ibang mga pangangailangan ng pandaigdigang komunidad,” he said.
He emphasized that he would not send Filipino troops to any situation where their mission is not clear.
“Importante ho ang buhay ng bawat isa,” he said, noting however that it is the country’s obligation to contribute to world peace given the fact that 10 million Filipinos are scattered around the world.
“Pinasiyasat natin lahat ng misyon na pinasukan ng ating bansa, at iisa ang pakay: may risko, tama. Pero ang risko dapat kaalinsunod doon sa pagkakaroon ng misyon na kayang gampanan at hindi nga isang mission impossible,” President Aquino said.
Honoring the peacekeepers, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin called them the “new heroes of our Republic.”
“Ang tapat at taos puso ninyong paglilingkod ay ipinakita ninyo sa inyong kahandaang isakripisyo and inyong buhay kung kinakailangan. Tunay nang maituturing kayong bagong bayani ng ating Republika,” Gazmin said during his welcome remarks.
Meanwhile, Department of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Assistant Secretary Charles Jose said the President has tasked Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario to meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon over the incident.
“We have yet to receive ‘yung report ng kanilang meeting. So, after siguro matanggap namin ito, we have to report this to the President bago namin siguro pwedeng mai-share kung anuman ang naging outcome ng kanilang pagpupulong,” Jose said.
Asked if the decision to hold the sending of peacekeepers to the Golan Heights also applies to other missions, he said, “Wala naman ganoong decision para sa ibang contingents natin.”
The Philippines has contingents in peacekeeping missions in Liberia, Haiti, Ivory Coast, and Kashmir, at the border between India and Pakistan. PND (ag)
Government targets 80 percent utilization of port of Manila
The government said it aims to achieve the ideal holding capacity of the Port of Manila in three to four weeks to accommodate incoming cargoes in the next two months.
"We are actually concentrating on making sure that we continue to move as much volume out so that we can reduce the utilization of the port," Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said in a press briefing in Malacañang on Wednesday.
Trucks will continue to move containers to container yards in Subic and Batangas, he said.
The percentage of port utilization has been improving, Almendras said, noting that congestion at the port has gradually decreased from 100 percent plus to about 90 percent at present.
He however clarified that the problem is not yet completely solved because the country still expects the peak of import-export activities in October and November.
Imports that were supposed to come in August and September, or those that were held back overseas, have begun to come in, he said.
"We now are actually processing a lot more inflows than historical because we are already addressing the backlog that is happening outside the country," he said.
"The good news is the big shipping lines and the big shippers have informed us that they no longer have backlog cargoes in the offshore areas," he said, referring to cargoes from the ports of Kaohsiung, Shanghai, and Singapore, which he observed are also experiencing congestion.
He said there might be some cargoes that are still on those ports that will be forwarded to the Philippines.
The other good news, he said, is that more shipping lines are already coming to Subic and to Batangas to unload their cargoes there.
Cargoes in the Philippines have to move because even before the congestion in the Port of Manila, ports in Kaohsiung, Shanghai and Singapore were already congested.
"So, we are watching the volume from October and November. We are going to continue to operate as a Task Force until we bring down the levels to the 80 percent level," Almendras said.
The task force assigned to decongest the Port of Manila includes representatives of the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Transportation and Communications, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, and Philippine Ports Authority, as well as the Philippine National Police and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority. PND (as)
President Aquino presents awards to Filipino peacekeepers from Golan Heights
President Benigno S. Aquino III presented awards to 10 members of the 7th Philippine Contingent to Golan Heights during the Heroes’ Welcome Ceremony held in Malacañang Palace on Wednesday morning.
The President conferred the Distinguished Service Star to National Contingent Commander Colonel Ezra James Enriquez and Lt. Col. Ted Dumusmog, who both led the contingent during the “crisis situation” in the Golan Heights, resulting in the successful extrication of all Filipino troops to safe locations.
Enriquez planned the defense posture of the Filipino troops when the Syrian rebels attacked.
The President also presented the Gold Cross Medal to Position 68 Commander Captain Nilo Ramones, Jr. and seven others.
Position 68 Assistant Commander, 2nd Lieutenant Larry Endozo, was cited for assisting Captain Ramones; Master Sergeant Wilson Lagmay for ensuring troops held their position; Sergeant Alwin Cuyos for his unfazed action that prevented the rebels from breaching their gate; Staff Sergeant Leonardo Aboy for neutralizing the gunner of a ZPU-2 (a Russian anti-aircraft gun); Staff Sergeant Andry Mejos as team leader of the Bravo unit and for his accurate firing at the enemy; Sergeant Ramil Bobiles, whose action prevented the rebels from advancing; and Corporal Joneve Acolicol for his bravery that led to the extrication of their unit.
The Distinguished Service Star, the third highest military award of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), is presented to soldiers who have rendered eminently meritorious and valuable service while holding a position of greater responsibility.
The Gold Cross Medal, the fourth highest military award, is given by the Chief of Staff to members of the AFP for gallantry in action. PND (ag)
Malacañang warns importers of port fixers
The Palace has warned truckers and importers of individuals who pose as shipping employees to collect money illegally.
In a press briefing in Malacañang, Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said they have received complaints about some people collecting P500 to P1,500 to allow truckers to enter the Port of Manila and haul cargoes.
"Inimbestigahan na po namin ‘yan. Ang nangyari, meron talagang mga tao na nagsasamantala," Secretary Almendras said.
He advised importers and truckers not to deal with these people, and instead approach legitimate port personnel.
"There is such a thing as an allocation. Kung ikaw ‘yung shipping line at meron kang barkong dadating, alam ho ng port operator kung ano ang kapasidad ng barko na ‘yon. Alam ng port operator kung how many containers can be loaded,” he explained.
“Therefore, the port operator will give that shipping line an allocation and say, ‘You are entitled to x number of containers na puwede mong ipasok sa port ready to be loaded to the ships’," he added.
There are also bulletin boards in the ports showing the lanes of the shipping lines, their respective allocations, and the color code, Almendras said.
Under the color coding scheme, red means the total allocation for a shipping line for a particular period is already full; yellow means it still has an allocation of 10 or 20 containers; and green means it can load more containers.
If the importers and truckers have issues or complaints, they can approach the help desk of the terminal operators, Almendras said. PND (as)
Palace congratulates cyclist who won gold in 2014 Incheon Games
The Palace hailed the victory of Daniel Patrick Caluag in the 2014 Asian Games in South Korea, giving the country its first gold medal.
"We join the Filipino nation in celebrating the gold-medal victory of Daniel Patrick Caluag in the BMX cycling event in the 2014 Incheon Games," Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement on Wednesday.
"With remarkable skill and talent, he has demonstrated the Filipinos’ courage and resiliency in global athletic competitions," he said.
"We also congratulate the Philippine Cycling Federation headed by Rep. Abraham Tolentino for its noteworthy development program that has brought off this achievement."
Caluag topped the Cycling BMX event and swept Heats 1 to 3 in a strong performance to finally give the Philippines its much-awaited gold medal.
Daniel Patrick finished the seeding run at the top of the group after clocking in at 35.489. He is .797 seconds ahead of his closest Japanese competitor.
With Caluag's win, the Philippines now has a 1-2-4 gold-silver-bronze medal count. PND (as)