Monday, 1 June 2015

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, June 1, 2015

Tragedy in Kentex factory fire must never happen again, says President Aquino

Emphasizing that the tragedy that killed 72 workers in the Kentex factory fire must never happen again, President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday vowed to press criminal charges against those responsible for the fire and ordered the inspection of 300,000 establishments in the National Capital Region (NCR) to ensure that they meet fire safety standards.

“Ang hinahabol natin, hindi maulit ang trahedyang ito at talaga namang mapagdiinan sa pamamagitan ng mga kasong isasampa sa lahat ng nagtulung-tulong para magkaroon ng ganitong trahedya,” he said during a press conference held at the Kalayaan Hall of Malacañang Palace.

The President noted that one of the charges that could be leveled against those responsible for the fire is “reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide.”

Describing the incident as a “tragedy waiting to happen,” President Aquino said multiple violations of the Fire Code have been found in the case of the Kentex factory fire, among them the lack of a protected fire exit, and the lack of a fire sprinkler system, fire detection and alarm system.

He also criticized the city government of Valenzuela for issuing the Kentex factory owners a business permit and a certificate of occupancy despite the lack of a fire safety inspection certificate.

The President further said that immediately after the incident, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) inspected 23 factories near the Kentex factory for fire safety and all of them failed.

“Twenty-three out of 23 ang may mga violations. Merong isa na sobrang dami ang violations, ipinasara na hanggang ma-correct ang mga ito,” he said.

To prevent the recurrence of the incident, the President said he has ordered the inspection of 300,000 establishments across the NCR. He however acknowledged that this is not easy.

“Hindi ganoon kadali ang proseso. Ang meron lang computerized data base dito sa mga factories na ito ay Quezon City at saka Valuenzuela. Kaya nga kailangan pulungin ni Interior Secretary Roxas para ma-compile lahat itong mga data para talagang masuyod natin lahat ang mga establisyemento,” he said.

He also saw the need to attend to the welfare of factory workers.

“Paano ba natin babalansehin ang karapatan ng manggagawa na magtrabaho sa isang maaliwalas at safe na working environment at ang karapatan nilang hindi mawalan ng trabaho? So, pipilitin natin na ma-minimize ang disruption, pero kapag talaga namang glaring na fire trap na talagang konting sunog lang, puwedeng maging matinding trahedya, obligado naman tayong protektahan ang mga manggagawa,” he explained.
Earlier during the press conference, BFP Chief Ariel Barayuga presented a scale model of the Kentex factory to show how the fire started and spread inside the building.

Also present during the press conference were Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., DILG Secretary Manuel Roxas, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. PND (ag)

Monday, 13 April 2015

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, April 13, 2015

President Aquino lauds TESDA for receiving ISO Certification

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday lauded the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for receiving a Nationwide International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001:2008 Certification.

Speaking during the awarding ceremony, held at the Heroes Hall of Malacañang Palace, President Aquino said the certification covers TESDA’s central office, 17 regional offices, 81 provincial offices, and its office in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“Patunay ang tagumpay na ito: Tuloy-tuloy ang positibong transpormasyon ng ating pamahalaan; tuloy-tuloy ang pag-aangat natin sa kalidad ng buhay ng ating mga Boss, ang mamamayang Pilipino,” he said.

The certification, which was presented by Femelyn Lati, general manager of the quality management agency TÜV SÜD PSB Philippines, Inc., recognizes the quality, safety and reliability of TESDA’s products and services.

“Ngayong tatak-ISO na ang TESDA, masisigurong higit pang magiging mahusay at makabuluhan ang kanilang training programs. Samakatuwid, diretso ang benepisyo nito sa kanilang trainees at scholars—mula sa out-of-school youth, sa mga kabilang sa sektor ng persons with disabilities, hanggang sa senior citizens—mga Pilipinong higit nang nabibigyan ng pag-asa’t pagkakataong umangat at umasenso sa buhay, at panghawakan ang sariling tadhana,” the President said.

Noting that 65.3 percent of the 7.1 million graduates of TESDA's Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) as of December 2014 have been employed, he attributed TESDA’s success to its leaders and staff.

"Malinaw po: Ang tagumpay na ito ay hindi nagmula sa sistemang bara-bara, kundi sa kalkulado’t tiyak na mga hakbang; hindi sa tsamba, kundi sa sama-samang hangarin at pagsisikap ng bumubuo ng TESDA, kasama na ang kanilang mga mag-aaral at mga napagtapos," President Aquino said.

TESDA Secretary Joel Villanueva, for his part, said that since news broke out that TESDA is now ISO-certified, some companies have eased their work experience requirements for TESDA graduates.

Villlanueva noted that the employment rate of TESDA graduates is now at 65 percent, compared to 28 percent during the previous administration.

TESDA is the second agency under the executive branch to obtain a nationwide ISO Certification. The Department of Health was the first agency to receive the status in December 2013.

The Munich-based TÜV SÜD PSB is the country’s leading multinational certification and inspection body, which provides inspection, certification, valuation, validation, training, and testing services.

The ISO has since 1947 been certifying the adherence of government and private enterprises to worldwide industrial and commercial standards of excellence. ISO International Standards ensure that products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality.

Also present at the event were Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, TESDA Region 11 Director Gaspar Gayona, and directors of TESDA’s regional and provincial offices. PND (ag)

APEC forum on energy begins in Southeast Asia’s renewable energy capital

(LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte) The 44th Meeting of the Expert Group on New and Renewable Energy Technologies (EGNRET44), a sub-working group of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), began on Monday at the Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel here.

“As an emerging renewable energy capital in the country, and even in Southeast Asia, we are proud that the province had been chosen to host the meeting to be attended by experts, engineers, and scientists from all over the world, as well as local Filipino scientists who wish to see the operations of our wind farms, the new solar power plant, and the rehabilitated hydropower plant here in Ilocos Norte,” Governor Imee Marcos said in a press statement.

Member economies of the APEC attending the meeting are Hongkong, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Singapore, the United States, and the Philippines, which co-chairs the EGNRET with Chinese Taipei.

The EGNRET is chaired by Dr. Chung-Hsien Chen of Chinese Taipei’s Ministry of Economic Affairs-Bureau of Energy, and co-chaired by Director Mario Marasigan of the Department of Energy’s Renewable Energy Management Bureau.

In his welcome address on Monday morning, Marasigan said Ilocos Norte has a unique renewable technology program that features a solar power installation inside a wind power facility in the northern town of Burgos.

The province is already home to wind farms that produce 283 megawatts (MW) of power, in the towns of Burgos, Bangui, and Pagudpud.

Last year, two big wind farm projects went on operation -- the 150-MW Burgos wind farm project of the Energy Development Corporation, and the 81-MW Caparispisan wind energy project of the North Luzon Renewable Energy Corporation in Pagudpud. The Northwind project in Bangui has also been expanded from 33 MW to 52 MW.

Delegates from APEC member economies have arrived in the province for the meeting and workshops on renewable energy.

Technical experts or division chiefs of BIG SHOW (Biomass, Biofuel, Geothermal, Solar, Hydro, Ocean, and Wind) sectors has joined the delegates.

The result of the Ilocos Norte meeting will be presented to APEC energy officials in October during the Energy Ministers’ Meeting (EMM12) to be held in Cebu.

The EGNRET aims to facilitate the increase in the use of new and renewable energy technologies in the APEC region.

The energy working group will continue the implementation of new and renewable energy technology workshops and projects that help build the needed human capacity to implement renewable energy development across the Asia Pacific.

Governor Marcos has organized a welcome dinner for the delegates on Monday (April 13) at the premises of the world heritage Paoay Church.

The delegates will be regaled with cultural presentations, featuring the internationally acclaimed Samiweng Singers and Ilocano dancers.

A night tour will also be offered to delegates who want to explore Ilocos Norte’s capital and neighboring towns.

Governor Marcos expressed hope that by hosting the meeting, Ilocos Norte would be included in the APEC map, making the province a top venue for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions.

The Philippines is hosting the 2015 APEC Summit, which carries the theme, “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World.” PIA (Region 1)

PIA News Dispatch - Sunday, April 12, 2015

Government intensifies preparation against effect of 'El Nino'

The government is intensifying its preparation against the adverse effect of the El Nino phenomenon, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said on Sunday.

"Patuloy na pinaiigting ng pamahalaan ang mga paghahanda upang labanan ang epekto ng El Niño sa bansa at masiguro ang katatagan ng produksyon ng pagkain, partikular ang palay, sa iba’t ibang bukirin at sakahan," said Coloma during a radio interview with dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

He noted that concerned government agencies are working together to minimize the effect of El Nino.

"Kumikilos na ang iba’t ibang ahensya ng pamahalaan sa pangunguna ng Kagawaran ng Agrikultura upang bigyan ng karampatang tulong ang mga magsasaka at manggagawa sa kabukiran, tulad ng pamamahagi ng mga drought resistant na punla ng palay, maging ang pagsasaayos ng kanilang mga cropping season upang maiwasan ang mga tinaguriang disaster-prone na mga buwan alinsunod sa inilatag na El Niño mitigation and adaptation plan," he added.

The Department of Agriculture together with the National Irrigation Administration will manage the water supplies for the irrigation of crops as water level in dams dwindles this summer.

"Handa namang magpatupad ang pamahalaan ng iba pang mga hakbang, tulad ng cloud seeding operations kung kinakailangan, lalo na sa mga lugar na nakararanas ng matinding panunuyo ng pananim," said Coloma. PND (ag)

Palace looking into ways to reduce unliquidated cash advances made by the Office of the President

The Palace is looking into ways to reduce the P437 million in cash advances made by the Office of the President but have not been liquidated, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said on Sunday.

“Tinanong po natin ito sa ating Office of the President, at ayon po sa Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Finance and Administration, buong taon pong tinutukoy at tinututukan ito ng ating pamahalaan para mapababa ang halaga na nabanggit—ang P437 million. Nagpadala po ng mga letters of demand sa mga kinauukulang public officials na mayroong mga unliquidated cash advances. Marami na rin po ang tumugon dito at nag-comply na doon sa requirements of liquidation,” Secretary Coloma said during an interview with radio station dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

He was commenting on reports that Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago has sought an inquiry into the Commission on Audit (COA) report that the Office of the President has accumulated some P437 million in unliquidated cash advances as of December 2013.

The COA report noted that of the total P437 million, P425.6 million were supposedly amassed during the previous administration, while the present administration accounted for P11.3 million.

“Mayroon din pong portion nitong pinag-uusapan natin na na-write off na dahil po sa matagal nang yumao ang mga tinutukoy, at mayroon ding mga inihahandang collection cases ang ating pamahalaan para panagutin ang mga hindi tumutugon sa mga letters of demand,” Coloma explained, emphasizing that only 2.5 percent of the total amount, or P11.3 million, pertains to the present administration.

“Ganunpaman, sinisikap pa ring makolekta ang pinakamalaking bahagi nito, at maresolba ang lahat ng mga unliquidated cash advances para tumalima po tayo sa batas hinggil dito,” he added. PND (ag)

PIA News Dispatch - Saturday, April 11, 2015

Malacanang welcomes BOI-approved investment pledges in first quarter of 2015

The Palace welcomes a Board of Investments (BOI) report saying the country had double-digit growth in the first quarter for investment pledges supported by registrations on big-ticket projects in the energy sector.

Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the country's investment pledges in the first quarter of the year was up by 17 percent to P54.62-billion from P46.7 billion last year.

There's a total of 59 projects approved in the first quarter, according to Valte and with these pledges, the administration could generate more jobs.

"These 59 projects are expected to generate 18,174 jobs for our countrymen. So, again, very good news from the BOI and the Department of Trade and Industry," she told dzRB Radyo Ng Bayan on Saturday.

The DTI attributed the higher figures in the first quarter to the approval of big-ticket projects listed under the electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply sector.

The sector generated P13.76 billion in approved investments, up 30 percent from last year’s comparable figure of P10.55 billion, the DTI said.

But it was the manufacturing sector that posted the biggest growth as investments shoot up by a tremendous 517 percent from P2.1 billion to P12.9 billion.

In the transportation and storage sector, approved investments grew by 134 percent from P4.47 billion to P10.48 billion, and in the information and communication sector, investments posted a remarkable increase of 841 percent from P496.7 million to P4.67 billion.

The agriculture, forestry, and fishing also posted some growth from last year having P198 million this year. The education sector on the other hand now has P1.4 billion worth of projects. PND (as)

Government programs must first take root to reflect on Social Progress Index

The government could use key markers in the 2015 Social Progress Index result to improve its programs that in the end will help uplift the lives of the people, a Palace official said on Saturday.

The Philippines was ranked fifth in terms of social progress in East Asia and Pacific region in a report by Social Progress Imperative, a think tank based in the United States.

According to the 2015 Social Progress Index results of the Washington D.C.-based Social Progress Imperative, the Philippines beats Indonesia, China, Cambodia, and Laos.

Although the Philippines faired well regionally, the country is ranked 64th among 133 countries, which the think tank labeled as "medium low." The Philippines dropped from 56th spot in 2014 to 64th this year.

In a radio interview on Saturday over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said government programs must be allowed to reach the people to have an impact. Valte was asked by reporters how the government could improve its ranking.

“Siguro bigyan natin ng pagkakataon ang mga programa natin to take root, and to actually keep helping,” she said.

The good things about the index is that it identifies markers like “depth of food deficit,” “maternal mortality cycle,” and “child mortality rate,” she noted.

With these markers, the government can focus on those areas to see how its programs can help push the rankings up in terms of these indicators, she added.

Valte also brushed off the country’s low ranking saying the organization itself says that these results need not be compared to 2014 and 2013 because the Social Progress Imperative is refining its data and information.

“A country’s progress on the 2015 report should not be compared to its progress in 2014 and in 2013 for the simple fact that the metrics are not the same,” Valte noted.

The 2015 Social Progress Index defines social progress as "the capacity of a society to meet the basic human needs of its citizens, establish the building blocks that allow citizens and communities to enhance and sustain the quality of their lives, and create the conditions for all individuals to reach their full potential." PND (as)

Assessment report on Mindanao may be helpful in ensuring peace in the region

A report by a refutable organization could aid Philippine policymakers in forging an enduring peace in Mindanao, a Palace official said on Saturday.

In a radio interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said a report by International Alert UK Philippines, a partner in Mindanao peace advocacy, could provide important inputs as lawmakers tackle proposals related to Mindanao.

International Alert is a member of the International Contact Group and its works on conflict monitoring are partly funded by the World Bank.

Valte said that although the group's report was submitted in August 2014, prior to the submission of the Bangsamoro Basic Law to Congress, it has important highlights worthy of consideration.

"One notable part of the report is that it has very interesting data on the conflict in areas of Mindanao, in such that it identifies new causes of violence, at hindi lang ‘yung sinasabing mga dating ugat ng conflict sa Mindanao," Valte said.

International Alert's data can be very useful to policymakers in discussing the peace process in Mindanao and help them craft laws and other policies important in peace initiatives, Valte said.

The report also recognized the importance of the ongoing peace process in Mindanao. "Without a doubt, ending the GPH-MILF conflict as a major source of rebellion-related violence retires a significant source of political violence with huge costs in terms of death, injury and displacement, and will impact positively on the prospects of peace and stability across the Bangsamoro," Valte said quoting the report.

Sen. Francis Escudero said the government has to contend with other armed groups following a peace pact with the MILF to ensure peace in Mindanao.

Discussions on the BBL by the lawmakers were disrupted by the issue on the bloody Mamasapano encounter last January that killed 44 police commandos and 17 MILF combatants.

There were doubts that the deadly incident may derail the deliberations on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which is already behind its original timetable. PND (as)

PIA News Dispatch - Friday, April 10, 2015

Bangsamoro Basic Law must be discussed based on its merits, says Palace official

Lawmakers must discuss the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) based on its merits, and not on such issues as Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal’s use of aliases, the Palace said on Friday.

"The BBL should be discussed on the basis of the merits of the law itself, or of the draft bill itself, and not other attendant issues that may be related but perhaps are not really at the core of the BBL draft itself," Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said during a press briefing in Malacañang.

Opposition senators have recently warned that Iqbal’s admission that he has been using an alias, could have adverse implications on the peace negotiations between the MILF and the government.

Valte however denied that there was any deception on the part of Iqbal.

“The real names of the entire MILF negotiators are known to government, so there was no deception on their part. Yes, that’s quite clear. There’s no deception on their part because they made their real names known to government,” she said, adding that they possess Philippine passports issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Valte further said that when the peace process began in 1997, the MILF negotiators, like negotiators from such rebel groups as the National Democratic Front, Moro National Liberation Front and Cordillera People’s Liberation Army, were allowed the courtesy to continue using their aliases.

They used aliases when they went underground to ensure their personal security, she added.

Reacting to reports that the non-passage of the BBL would result in bloody wars in Mindanao, Valte said people cannot be stopped from voicing their fears but it is important for the government to raise public awareness of the proposed law to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao.

"What we are here to do is to open the discussion on the merits of the BBL and to continue to explain the position of government as to why we think that this is a real solution to the conflict that is happening in Mindanao," she said.

The National Peace Council, which was announced by the President, has also been formed and has already had its first meeting last April 6, Valte said, noting that it is a private group that is not funded by the government. PND (as)

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, April 9, 2015

President Aquino leads 73rd ‘Araw ng Kagitingan’ rites in Bataan

(PILAR, Bataan) President Benigno S. Aquino III honored war veterans during the commemoration of the 73rd Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) at the Mt. Samat Shrine here Thursday.

The President was joined by United States Ambassador Philip Goldberg and Japanese Ambassador Kazuhide Ishikawa during the wreath-laying ceremony at the Colonnade area of the shrine.

In his speech, President Aquino acknowledged the contributions made by war veterans in preserving the country's sovereignty and in defending national security.

"Sa araw pong ito, muli tayong nagtitipon upang bigyang-pugay ang kolektibong kagitingan ng mga nakipaglaban sa panahon ng digmaan. Kasabay ng paggunita sa kanilang kabayanihan, naninindigan tayo, kasama ang ating mga naging kakampi at katunggali noon, bilang nagkakaisang mga bansa sa pagtataguyod ng malawakang kapayapaan at kaunlaran sa mundo," the President said.

He said that for the veterans’ bravery, it is only fitting that their rights be protected and promoted.

"Sa mabuting pamamahala, higit pa nating pinapabuti at pinapalawak ang natatanggap ninyong mga benepisyo. Pangunahin po nating tinututukan ang paglilinis at pagsasaayos ng listahan ng mga beteranong nakatatanggap ng ayuda, sa ilalim ng Pensioner’s Revalidation Program,” he said, noting that it is only fair that legitimate veterans receive full benefits, and that no unqualified individual would ever receive a share.

He reported that the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) has improved the enforcement of the Validation Program through formal agreements with banks, financial institutions, local civil registrars, and other government agencies.

“Ang good news po: Ang records po ng ating mga beterano, digital na, at hindi na mano-manong inililista. Dahil po sa mga inisyatibang ito, ang validity rate ng pensioner accounts list natin nitong 2014 ay nasa 99.95 percent na. Ang perang inilaan para sa inyo, diretso na pong pumupunta sa inyo,” the President said, adding that last month, the number of pension accounts of living veterans and of dependents of injured or deceased veterans handled by the PVAO has reached 198,169.

He further said that the Veterans Memorial Medical Center and 601 other public hospitals in various parts of the country are ensuring that veterans receive health care.

Part of their efforts, he said, is the provision of daily medical subsidies for veterans when they get confined at a health facility; financial assistance for operations concerning cataracts, coronary angiogram, angioplasty, cardiac bypass, and chemotherapeutic agents; and subsidies for such medical products as orthopedic implants and prosthesis, hearing aids, and dentures.
President Aquino also noted that since July 2010, the government has been providing educational assistance to 15,571 dependents of war veterans.

"Sa ilalim ng Educational Benefits Program ng PVAO, mayroon tayong financial assistance na umaabot hanggang P36,000 kada taon para sa bawat kuwalipikadong mag-aaral. Ang pondong ipinagkaloob natin dito mula nang tayo ay manungkulan ay P305.2 milyon," he said.

"Nakikita na po natin na ang sakripisyo ng ating mga beterano, sinusuklian na ng estado," the President said.

This year's commemoration carried the theme, "Ipunla ang Kagitingan sa Kabataan, Ihanda ang Beterano ng Kinabukasan," which is a call to action that embodies the advocacy of preparing the youth to be future defenders by instilling the values of valor, patriotism and self-sacrifice by our forefathers in attaining freedom, peace and democracy. PND (jm)

PIA News Dispatch - Wednesday, April 8, 2015

President Aquino declares 2015 as ‘Visit the Philippines Year’

President Benigno S. Aquino III has signed Proclamation No. 991, declaring 2015 as ‘Visit the Philippines Year’, as the country gears up for the hosting of this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum.

The proclamation, which was signed by the President last March 30, stated that the APEC Forum and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Tourism Forum in 2016 will both promote the country as a host for meetings, conventions and exhibitions in the Asia-Pacific.

Proclamation No. 991 also recognizes the need to consolidate the activities of the public and private sectors into one Calendar of Events to showcase the outstanding work of Filipinos in music and arts, lifestyle and entertainment, sports and adventure, business, and history and culture, as well as unveil the many historic treasures, natural wonders and unforgettable adventures of the country.

The proclamation acknowledges that tourism can be used to mobilize resources to enhance infrastructure and product development, generate employment and suitable investments; and serve as a platform for closer collaboration between the public and private sectors, and the international community in hosting events that attract international visitors and showcase local talents and skills.

To support the celebration of the Visit the Philippines Year (VPY) 2015, all government agencies are directed to submit to the Department of Tourism (DOT), through the Tourism Promotions Board, their lists of international and local events and activities for inclusion in the VPY 2015 Calendar of Events; and use the VPY 2015 logo in all their promotional materials.

All Philippine embassies and consular offices, as well as the Department of Trade and Industry and DOT foreign offices are instructed to ensure the publicity and dissemination of information regarding VPY 2015, while the Postmaster General shall design, print and issue a special stamp.

The private sector, especially companies involved in hotel and lodging, travel and tours, transportation, retail and souvenirs, and restaurants are encouraged to support VPY 2015 by developing relevant tour programs and packages for both foreign and local tourists; and all public and private schools and universities are encouraged to initiate projects and events related to the theme of VPY 2015.

Under the proclamation, all other government departments, bureaus, and offices, as well as all local government units are also enjoined to support and cooperate with the Department of Tourism.

With regards to funding, all concerned agencies are authorized to charge against their current appropriations all amounts necessary to implement Proclamation No. 991, subject to existing budgetary, accounting, and auditing rules and regulations. PND (jm)

President Aquino to lead 73rd Commemoration of Day of Valor

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday will lead the 73rd commemoration of the Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) at the Dambana ng Kagitingan, Mt. Samat Shrine in Pilar, Bataan.

The Araw ng Kagitingan, also known as Bataan Day, is observed on the 9th day of April every year by virtue of Republic Act No. 3022 and is a holiday nationwide.

The event coincides with the yearly observance of Philippine Veterans Week to celebrate and honor the bravery of Filipino soldiers who fought in the name of freedom and patriotism during World War II.

Officials from the military will join President Aquino during the morning ceremonial rites in Bataan, along with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, US Ambassador Philip Goldberg, and Japanese Ambassador Kazuhide Ishikawa.

This year’s commemorative activities will carry the theme, “Ipunla ang Kagitingan sa Kabataan, Ihanda ang Beterano ng Kinabukasan." PND (hdc)

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, April 7, 2015

President Aquino inaugurates P772.9-million Lullutan Bridge that would boost Isabela's agricultural sector

(ILAGAN CITY, Isabela) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Tuesday inaugurated the P772.9-million bridge in Barangay Lullutan, Ilagan City, Isabela province.

In a project briefing during the inauguration, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson said the bridge used to be a spillway that was destroyed by a typhoon some 20 years ago.

Secretary Singson apologized for the one-year delay in the construction of the 500-meter Lullutan Bridge, explaining that the government ran into a number of problems while building it.

Noting that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has allocated P8.1 billion for Isabela from 2011 to 2015, he said the government will continue to improve Isabela's national roads and construct more farm-to-market roads in the province.

The bridge, considered as one of the longest bridges to cross the Cagayan River, connects Barangay Camalagui 1 and Barangay Lullutan, both in Ilagan.

With the absence of a bridge after the spillway was destroyed in 1995, residents have been using barges to transport their agricultural products to markets in Ilagan.

The Lullutan Bridge, with a loading capacity of 20 tons, is made of 14-span structural steel girders with reinforced concrete slab supported by 13 piers, with two concrete column pedestals resting on group bored pile foundation. It also features Portland Cement Concrete Pavement approaches, measuring 1.175 kilometers.

The bridge was completed last January 21 under Package II-A of the DPWH.

Officials expect the bridge to open up new opportunities for Isabela, particularly its agricultural sector.

Also during the inauguration, President Aquino led the granting of financial assistance to 73 boatmen (bangkeros) displaced by the construction of the Lullutan Bridge.

Each bangkero, who used to ferry people and goods when the bridge was not yet completed, received P20,000 from the President.

Also present at the event were Isabela Governor Faustino Dy III, Isabela District 1 Representative Rodolfo Albano III, and Ilagan City Mayor Jose Marie Diaz. PND (as)

President Aquino vows to continue improving Isabela's infrastructure

(ILAGAN CITY, Isabela) The inauguration of the P772.9-million Lullutan Bridge is just the start of the government scheme to improve the infrastructure of the Cagayan Valley region, President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Tuesday.
“Bahagi lamang ang Lullutan Bridge sa malawakan nating inisyatiba na paunlarin ang imprastruktura sa Isabela at sa buong bansa,” President Aquino said in his speech during the event.

He noted that since 2011, the government has released P11.9 billion for the development of Isabela's infrastructure and irrigation projects.

Among these projects, he said, are the ongoing construction of the Cabagan-Sta. Maria Bridge that will connect Isabela and other municipalities in the Cordillera Administrative Region; and the repair and widening of the Maharlika Highway, National Road 1 or Asian Highway 26.

"Tuloy-tuloy din po ang konstruksiyon natin ng kalsadang magkokonekta sa Daang Maharlika at sa Santiago-Tuguegarao Road sa Santiago City," he added.

Also part of the government initiative are 59.56 kilometers (km) of farm-to-market roads in the province that have been built and repaired, he said.

“Oras matapos natin ang dagdag pang 15.91 na kilometrong farm-to-market roads dito sa inyo, aabot sa halos 20,000 ang farmer beneficiaries ng probinsiya,” the President said.

He further reported that the government has completed 161 irrigation projects in Isabela, and is working to finish 32 more irrigation projects that would water 146,625 hectares of farmlands and benefit 90,950 farmers.

“Idagdag na rin ninyo diyan ang sinimulan nating Pasa Small Reservoir Irrigation Project. ‘Pag nakumpleto ito sa 2016, inaasahang tataas sa 9,996 metric tons mula sa 555 metric tons ang annual rice production ng Ilagan,” he stated.

Summing up the infrastructure projects in the entire Cagayan Valley region, the President said the government has already begun developing 25.4 km of the first section of the alternate route for Dalton Pass and is studying the extension of the North-South Railway Project that will traverse Isabela as well as the Ilocos and Cordillera regions.

President Aquino said the government aims to increase the budget allocation for national infrastructure development from the present four percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) to five percent next year.

"Dahil nga pinili ng sambayanan ang tuwid na daan, ang mga pangarap na dating nakatiwangwang, isa-isa na pong nating naisasakatuparan. Mula sa pagiging ‘Sick Man of Asia’, ‘Asia’s Rising Tiger’ na ang ating bansa," he said. PND (as)

President Aquino expects Filipinos to choose new leader who adheres to 'daang matuwid'

(ILAGAN CITY, Isabela) President Benigno S. Aquino III said Tuesday he is confident that the Filipino people will choose a new leader who will continue the "righteous path" that he championed when he ran for office five years ago.

Speaking during the inauguration of the Lullutan Bridge here, the President credited the Filipino people for bringing about change in the country.

“Kayo ang aking mga Boss; kayo ang sambayanang Pilipino na aking pinaglilingkuran; kayo po ang gumawa ng pagbabago. Kayo po ang naging susi para sa transpormasyong tinatamasa na natin ngayon. Binigyan po ninyo ako ng mandato, at sabay-sabay po nating nakikita ang positibong bunga ng lahat ng ating pinagsikapan," he told his audience.

He noted that if the people are pleased with the country’s transformation, then they must continue supporting good governance.

Addressing the frequently asked question on who would pursue the reforms he has begun once he leaves office, the President said he believes that the people would continue building the nation.

"Mga Boss, bilib ako sa inyo. Kayo ang magpapatuloy nito, at alam kong hindi kayo magpapa-bola sa mga nagprepresentang kakampi natin, pero klaro namang doble-kara," he noted.

"Tiwala akong marunong tumanaw ang Pilipino sa nakaraan, nang hindi na maulit pa ang mga naging kamalian noon, at sa gayon ay marating natin ang nais nating patunguhan."

In his remaining 450 days in office, he said he is more determined to continue pushing for national development.

“Bilang inyong Pangulo, tunay pong pribilehiyo ko na paglingkuran ang sambayanan. Sa patnubay at pagmamahal ng Panginoon, at sa matibay ninyong suporta, sigurado akong walang anumang pagsubok ang di natin kayang lagpasan,” President Aquino said. PND (as)

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, April 6, 2015

Palace says latest survey indicates public understood President Aquino’s position on Mamasapano incident

Malacañang on Monday said the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey shows that the public understood President Benigno S. Aquino III’s position on the Mamasapano incident.

Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. noted that while President Aquino's approval rating dropped based on the SWS poll, the President got higher figures than the Pulse Asia survey that was conducted three weeks earlier.

"While there has been a decline in the President’s satisfaction rating (down to 47 percent from 63 percent), it is evident that a higher number of Filipinos --- (50 percent who oppose his resignation; and 47 percent who expressed satisfaction) --- affirm their belief in his leadership and outnumber those who are dissatisfied (36 percent) or prefer that he resign from office (32 percent),” Secretary Coloma said in a statement.

A significant segment is undecided about his performance (17 percent) and about his resignation (18 percent), he said, adding this represents an opportunity to reach out to those who are undecided or ambivalent in their sentiments towards the President and the administration, to eventually win them over.

Coloma pointed out that the survey was taken on March 20 to 23, three weeks after Pulse Asia’s public opinion survey conducted on March 1 to 7.

“It is possible that, having gathered more information about current events—and having been able to know and understand better the President’s position on the Mamasapano incident—the people gave the President a higher satisfaction rating in the SWS survey (47 percent) than the performance approval rating that he obtained in the Pulse Asia survey (38 percent),” he explained.

Despite the drop in ratings, the Palace official assured that the government remains focused on its priority programs, such as infrastructure development, employment generation, poverty reduction, and improved social protection.

“The President and his Cabinet are firmly determined to carry on with the implementation of salient reform and development programs geared toward achieving the primary objective of attaining inclusive growth and improving the quality of life of their bosses—the Filipino people,” Coloma said.

“Transparent and responsive governance along the righteous path will be pursued, so that public institutions may be strengthened, the transformation process may be sustained and that the concrete gains achieved will become permanent,” he added.

The March 20 to 23 SWS survey interviewed 1,200 adults nationwide. PND (jm)

Malacañang announces appointment of 18 new officials

The Palace on Monday announced the appointment of 18 new officials of various government agencies.

During a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Corazon Davis and Marcial Amaro, Jr. have been appointed as Assistant Secretaries of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources; and Danielle Marie Rieza, as Acting Assistant Secretary of the Department of Finance.

Also appointed were Ramon Jumawan as Director IV, Department of Transportation and Communications; Amante Caluya, Jr. as Captain, Hydrography Branch of the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority; Fidelis Cañada as Acting Director II, Office of Civil Defense under the Department of National Defense.

Ariel Cayanan has been named as Acting Executive Director III, Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries; and Josefina Rico as Director II, National Meat Inspection Service. Both agencies are under the Department of Agriculture.

Other appointees were Josie Perez as Deputy National Statistician of the Censuses and Technical Coordination Office; and Estela de Guzman as Deputy National Statistician of the Civil and Registration and Center Support Office. Both offices are part of the Philippine Statistics Authority, which is under the National Economic and Development Authority.

The new Registers of Deeds II are Arthur Abamonga, Julie Mae Monique Abela, Casiano Arcillas, Consuelo Filog, Dinna Lao, and Maria Elnora Puday for the Land Registration Authority, which is under the Department of Justice.

Raul Fajardo Marcelo has been named as member representing the private sector, of the Board of Directors of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority; while Jose Suan has been named as member representing the labor sector, of the Board of Directors of the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority. PND (ag)

Palace urges public to pay proper taxes

Malacañang on Monday called on the public to pay proper taxes for the continuous implementation of infrastructure projects.

“Taxes are indeed the lifeblood of the nation and so we encourage everyone, every working tax-paying citizen, to please report, especially those who are not compensation employees,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during the daily press briefing.

"Compensation employees are withheld at source. For those who are professionals, those who have their own businesses, please pay the proper taxes,” he said, noting that taxes are used to fund infrastructure projects across the country, such as the bridge in Isabela that will be inaugurated by the President on Tuesday, the road reblocking and repair done in EDSA during the Holy Week, and a number of connector highways.

"At the same time, recognizing that we do not want to leave anyone behind, that we are able to pour investments into our social alleviation programs because an investment on our poorest of the poor is an investment on people. That is also a priority of our administration. So, we would like to encourage every taxpayer to please pay the proper tax,” he said.

The filing of income tax return has been set on April 15. PND (jm)

President Aquino to inaugurate P772.9-million Lullutan Bridge in Isabela

President Benigno S. Aquino III will inaugurate on Tuesday the P772.9-million Lullutan Bridge in Ilagan City that will connect Isabela and the Cagayan Valley region.

The 500.6-lineal meter Lullutan Bridge is considered one of the longest bridges to cross Cagayan River, connecting Barangay Camalagui 1 and Barangay Lullutan of Ilagan City, Isabela in Cagayan Valley.

Prior to the construction of the Lullutan Bridge, both barangays were linked by a spillway bridge, which was destroyed by floods during a typhoon, back in 1995.

With no infrastructure connecting those barangays, residents have been using barges to transport their agricultural products to markets in Ilagan City.

The Lullutan Bridge, with a loading capacity of 20 tons, is made of 14-span structural steel girders with reinforced concrete slab supported by 13 piers, with two concrete column pedestals resting on group bored pile foundation. It also features Portland Cement Concrete Pavement approaches, measuring 1.175 kilometers.

The bridge was completed last January 21 under Package II-A of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

It is among the bridge projects of the Urgent Bridges Construction Project for Rural Development being implemented by the DPWH Unified Project Management Office-Bridges Management Cluster.

Officials expect the bridge to open up new opportunities for Isabela, particularly its agricultural sector.

To accompany the President during Tuesday's event are Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, Isabela Governor Faustino Dy III, Isabela District 1 Represetative Rodolfo Albano III, and Ilagan City Mayor Jose Marie Diaz. PND (as)

Palace to support judiciary's move to get rid of corrupt judges

The Palace on Monday reiterated its commitment to fight corruption but said it is up to the judiciary to cleanse its ranks of corrupt judges.

"We are all against corruption in all its forms. We are, however, recognizing the role of the separation of powers and the existence of the three branches of government. We will defer to the Chief Justice as to how the Supreme Court handles corruption cases within their branch,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters during a press briefing.

He was commenting on reports that the Coalition of Filipino Consumers has asked Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to investigate allegations of "justice for sale" involving members of the Court of Appeals.

Citing a World Bank study that said it takes the Court of First Instance several years to resolve a case, Secretary Lacierda emphasized that justice delayed is justice denied.

“That is one of the reforms that we would like to see happen, especially in the area of cases. As a lawyer, I’ve heard of so many stories about situations like these, and so we will leave it with Chief Justice Sereno and her peers to find ways to investigate and to find a long-term solution to this corruption in the judiciary," he said. PND (as)