Official Publication of the Philippine Information Agency Bicol Regional Office, in cooperation with the RIAC-REDIRAS - RDC Bicol

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

P-Noy’s 3rd SONA drew praises from Sorsoganons

By Benilda A. Recebido

SORSOGON CITY, July 31 (PIA) -- President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address or SONA on Monday, June 23 has drawn praises and positive feedback from majority of the Sorsoganons as monitored from different local media outlets and as stated by some bystanders here.

In an informal interview with some tricycle drivers, sidewalk vendors, college students, including private and government workers, they did not hide their conviction over the achievements the President has presented saying, the citizens of Sorsogon, who belong to the marginalized sector, now really feel that the government is taking good care of them citing that the ‘Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino’ Program (Conditional Cash Transfer Program), the PhilHealth benefits, including scholarships and other educational benefits presently enjoyed by the beneficiaries.

And again, the use of the national language made his SONA appreciated by common Sorsoganons.

“The SONA presentation was made simple yet comprehensible,” said Connie Llanete, a carinderia owner. The same feedback was also supported by a group of six tricycle drivers who also watched the SONA in the same place.

A group of students from St. Louise de Marillac College of Sorsogon also presented their views saying that the government’s efforts now to improve the quality of education is inspiring and that the scholarships as well as subsidies to private institutions offered are among the best catalysts towards an empowered and self-reliant Filipino citizenry in the future.

The fight against corruption swayed many Sorsoganons and likewise, appreciated the President’s value for convergence and “bayanihan” system as a tool towards achieving good governance.

Six out of eight local media during casual discussions said that they are convinced of the President’s sincerity towards achieving “Tuwid na daan” (straight path and transparent governance) while the two others still want the President to run after other corrupt government officials.

“Crediting the Filipinos for the administration’s achievements for the past one year is in no doubt an indication that the President is sincere in saying “Kayo ang Boss ko” (“You are my boss.”),” some others also said.

However, there are still those who found the SONA lacking in merit.

According to one media commentator here, though the President elaborated credit rating upgrades, high stock market record, higher growth of domestic product than projected, still the President failed to state the current situation of the country.

“I may, perhaps, have a different perspective of what SONA is, but given all the achievements and future plans of the President, he should have also presented the current status of the country, whether it has been elevated from a particular rank to another rank, specifically in terms of poverty and economic indices,” he said.

Also, according to a few, modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is a lofty dream. But, they are still open to the possibility of attaining this dream saying nothing is wrong in dreaming, trusting the President’s words, “those impossible may be made possible.”

And forthe non-government worker who looked at modernization effort positively, the procurement of equipment of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and modernization of the AFP show how the President value the life of our uniformed men coming up with an effective strategy to make sure these men can still go back to their family intact and alive after every response to the call of duty.

Senator Francis Escudero said millions of Filipinos have been benefited by the “Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino” Program, however there are still a lot to consider to make it sustainable and effective. Barangay officials must be consulted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development in the selection of beneficiaries because they know their constituents better than others do, he said.

Meanwhile, surprising to most citizens here, militant groups who were expected to air out sentiments through demonstrations during the SONA were quiet and were not seen dispersed or doing any activity at the city’s identified protester’s area and even along main thoroughfares.

Some media reports, however, disclosed that a number of members of the militant groups here went to some parts in Bicol region and in Manila to join bigger activities there, while about one or two persons quietly displayed some placards and streamers at the shoulder of Alice Bridge in Magsaysay St., Sorsogon City. (MAL/BAR-PIA5 Sorsogon)

RDC pushes for upgrading of BRTTH to university hospital

By Marlon A. Loterte

LEGAZPI CITY, July 31 (PIA) -- The Regional Development Council (RDC) approved a resolution endorsing the upgrade of the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) to a university hospital.

BRTTH is tertiary hospital run by the Department of Health. It serves as the primary regional health care facility for Bicolanos and venue for training of medical, nursing and paramedical practitioners.

The hospital is also a source of scientific researches on prevalent diseases in the region.

Established in 1918, BRTTH was formerly known as the Albay Provincial Hospital (APH) and is the first national government hospital in the region with a 50-bed capacity.

In 1970, the hospital bed capacity was increased to 75 and was designated three years later as a training and teaching hospital under Department Order No. 94.

The devolution provided under Republic Act (RA) 7160 or the Local Government Code of the Philippines, however, placed APH under the Albay Provincial Health Office (PHO) in 1993 and suffered drastically reduced funding.

RA 8051 was enacted in 1994 and it converted the hospital to what it is now, coupled with an increased bed capacity of 250 and provisions for modernization.

By 1998, the hospital was able to perform its first open heart surgery for 19 patients in collaboration with the Philippine Heart Center and the Albay Heart Foundation.

In 2000, it conducted 18 more open heart surgeries to become the leading heart care facility in the region.

It was able to acquire a soft loan from the government of Netherlands in 2004 for its heart lung and kidney sub-specialty.

The bed capacity has also been upgraded to 300 and endorsed by the RDC in 2004 to become the Southern Luzon Medical Center under Resolution No. 05-13.

In a resolution passed during a meeting at the regional office of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) here, the RDC chaired by Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, said the endorsement was based on the proposal submitted earlier by the DOH’s regional Center for Health and Development (CHD) for Bicol.

The CHD proposal was supportive of the opening of a College of Medicine at the Bicol University (BU) wherein BRTTH will be the teaching hospital for the medical, nursing and other paramedical courses offered.

The RDP also aims to provide access to health and family planning services and improve health, nutrition, and family planning outcomes.

The BRTTH upgrading as, Salceda said, carries with it the allocation of P1.151 billion by the national government for the establishment of a university hospital in cooperation with BU. (MAL/MSA-PIA5/ALbay)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Legazpi City to host First Phl Tourism Conference on CCA

By Marlon A. Loterte

LEGAZPI CITY, July 30 (PIA) -- As preparations for the first Philippine Tourism Conference for Climate Change Adaptation (PTCCCA) heighten, the communication lines to Legazpi City are getting crowded due to the rush of confirmations and inquiries from chief executive officers and other top level officials across the country.

The PTCCCA is slated on August 23-25 this year and will be held at The Oriental Legazpi with some 1,000 expected participants.

Conference Director Manuel ‘Nong’ C. Rangasa said the callers from as far as the Ilocos Region and to Mindanao are eager to attend the three-day event.

President Benigno S. Aquino III said that he has great hope that the coming conference will ensure the government’s goal of sustainable development.

Vice President Jejomar’Binay also expressed eager anticipation for the EpiCentre, a special climate change magazine that will be launched during the conference.

This early, the 1st PTCCCA has already gained strong support from government, particularly from the President and his Cabinet who are expected to attend the national conference. Secretaries who had expressed support are Jesse Robredo of the DILG, Ramon Jimenez of DOT, Ramon Paje of DENR, Lucille Sering of the CCC, Nereus Acosta of the PAEP, and Elisea Gozun of the PACC, among others.

Earlier, DILG Secretary Jesse M. Robredo issued Memo-Circular 2012-108 ordering all local chief executives in the country to attend the 1st PTCCCA together with their tourism, environment, planning and anti-disaster officers as well as members of technical staff and council committee chairmen. The DILG directive was followed by a similar Civil Service Commission regional memo circular duly signed by Director Cecilia R. Nieto enjoining the same officials to attend the national conference, the first of its kind in the country.

From the Philippine Senate, it is environmentalist Senator Loren Legarda herself who will be coming to grace the national tourism event.

Meanwhile, in the local scene, the local government of Legazpi , headed by Mayor Geraldine-Barrameda Rosal is also seriously preparing for the Ibalong Festival, a twin celebration that will coincide with the 1st PTCCCA and the inauguration of the Boulevard de Legazpi and new roads going to the South Luzon International Airport (SLIA).

LCCAD, Inc. president and chairman, Nong Rangasa who is also the PTCCCA conference director, said the mobile NGO aims to complement and support government initiatives and efforts for progressive and sustainable development amidst climate change.

Rangasa added that the three-day event will be a fertile opportunity for media practitioners to interview key government personalities from the national offices as well as other participants from across the country. (MAL/LCCAD-PIA5, Albay)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mount Isarog National Park vies as biosphere reserve

By Ana-Liza S. Macatangay

NAGA CITY, July 29 (PIA) -- Proponents for the inclusion of Mount Isarog National Park (MINP) in the biosphere reserve are conducting consultations and related activities for its nomination.

A biosphere reserve, a protected area, aims to conserve genetic resources, species and ecosystems to serve as venue for scientific research, monitoring and promotion of sustainable development.

Currently, Palawan and Puerto Galera are the only declared biosphere reserves in the country.

As starting point for the process of nomination, the Central Bicol State University of Agriculture (CBSUA), the chosen implementing partner, conducted a two-day consultation-workshop on the Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme (for the national park at Villa Caceres Hotel here from July 25 to 26.

Behind the program is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which is celebrating the 40th year of its MAB Programme.

Peter Dogse, MAB Programme specialist from UNESCO headquarters in Paris, said the activity is well within the framework of the program as it aims to enhance the awareness and understanding of stakeholders.

The activity also endeavors to promote MINP as a potential biosphere reserve.

Mount Isarog, dubbed as paradise at the heart of Camarines Sur, is a stratovolcano located 1,966 meters above sea level.

It is considered as the highest forested peak in Southern Luzon and is home to endangered species and rich resources.

The thriving endemic life and verdant forest covers serve as source of livelihood to communities nestled at its foot.
But through the years, these resources have been threatened by man’s activities like illegal logging.

Once declared as a biosphere reserve, the MINP will bring more opportunities such as collaboration with other biosphere reserves, promotion of sustainable development, bringing of resources and people together and gaining international recognition, among others.

“The process may be long, two or more years but it’s worth the effort,” Dogse said. (LSMacatangay/ PIA Camarines Sur)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

DPWH intensifies drive on RROW obstruction clearing

By Benilda A. Recebido

SORSOGON CITY, July 28 (PIA) -- The Department of Public Works and Highways – Sorsogon 2 District Engineering Office has stepped up the cleaning of structures obstructing all road-right of way (RROW) along national primary and secondary roads.

District Engineer Jake Alamar urged maintenance engineers to remove objects that impede the RROW, including permanent infrastructure projects of barangays and local governments, were ordered demolished.

These structures include utility posts, buildings, houses, shanties, stores, shops, sheds, posts, canopies, billboards, signage, advertisements, fences and amusement places that are deemed hindrance and could obstruct safe passage of vehicles and pedestrians, said Alamar.

He added that pedestrians using sidewalks and shoulders are exposed to roadside accidents, thus, measures ensuring the public’s safety must be intensified.

Meanwhile, engineer Jose B. Gigantone Jr., chief of the Maintenance Section, assured the district engineer and the public that they will work progressively for the maintenance of road safety. (MAL/BAR/HED-DPWH-S2DEO/PIA Sorsogon)

Friday, July 27, 2012

All system go for the First Phl Tourism Conference for CCA in Legazpi City

LEGAZPI CITY, July 27 (PIA) – As preparations for the first Philippine Tourism Conference for Climate Change Adaptation (PTCCCA) heighten, the communication lines to Legazpi City are getting crowded due to the rush of confirmations and inquiries from chief executive officers and other top level officials across the country.

The PTCCCA is slated on August 23-25 this year and will be held at The Oriental Legazpi with some 1,000 expected participants.

Conference Director Manuel ‘Nong’ C. Rangasa said the callers from as far as the Ilocos Region and down to the Mindanao areas are eager to come and attend the 3-day event.

No less than President Benigno S. Aquino III said that he has great hope that the coming conference will ensure the government’s  goal  of sustainable development.

Vice President ‘Jejomar’ Binay also expressed eager anticipation for the EpiCentre, a special climate change magazine that will be launched during the conference.

This early, the 1st PTCCCA has already gained strong support from the government, particularly from the President and his Cabinet secretaries who are expected to attend the national conference, like Secretaries: Jesse Robredo of the DILG, Ramon Jimenez of DOT, Ramon Paje of DENR, Lucille Sering of the CCC, Nereus Acosta of the PAEP, and Elisea Gozun of the PACC, among others.

Earlier, DILG Secretary Jesse M. Robredo issued Memo-Circular 2012-108 ordering all local chief executives in the country to attend the 1st PTCCCA together with their tourism, environment, planning and anti-disaster officers as well as members of technical staff and council committee chairmen. The DILG directive was followed by a similar Civil Service Commission regional memo circular duly signed by Director Cecilia R. Nieto enjoining the same officials to attend the national conference, the first of its kind in the country.

From the Philippine Senate, it is environmentalist Senator Loren Legarda herself who will be coming to grace the national tourism event.

Meanwhile, in the local scene, the Local Government of Legazpi , headed by Mayor Geraldine-Barrameda Rosal is also seriously preparing for the Ibalong Festival, a twin celebration that will coincide with the 1st PTCCCA and the inauguration of the Boulevard de Legazpi  and new roads opening going to the South Luzon International Airport (SLIA). 

LCCAD, Inc. President and chairman, Nong Rangasa who is also the PTCCCA conference director, said the mobile NGO aims to complement and support government initiatives and efforts for progressive and sustainable development amidst climate change.

Rangasa added that the three-day event will be a fertile opportunity for media practitioners to interview key government personalities from the national offices as well as other participants from across the country. (MAL/LCCAD-PIA5, Albay)

NFA now sells well-milled rice at P28/kilo

By Edna A. Bagadiong

VIRAC, Catanduanes, July 27 (PIA) -- The National Food Authority (NFA) here is now selling Grade No. 1 well-milled rice to consumers at P28 per kilogram.

NFA Catanduanes Provincial Manager Oscar Tubalinal said the agency has started selling it to consumers after the arrival of 14,000 bags from mainland Bicol as part of the dispersal program.

Tubalina added that NFA has since carried out procurement of paddy, buffer stocking, processing activities, dispersal of paddy and milled rice to strategic locations and distribution of the staple grain to various marketing outlets at appropriate times of the year as part of the measures and strategies to ensure stability of supply and price of the staple grain-rice as well as food security.

He also assured the locals here of adequate rice supply in the province.

Tubalinal said the stock of rice available in their office is just enough to meet the demands of consumers in the entire province.

NFA is also selling same rice to accredited grain retailers at P1,300 each per bag. Moreover, the regular milled-rice is being sold for P1,250 per bag for accredited grain retailers and P27 per kilograms to regular consumers. (MAL/EAB-PIA5, Catanduanes)

Mines Bureau-5 to probe foreigners working in Bicol mining companies

LEGAZPI CITY, July 27 (PIA) -- Qualifications and working assignments of foreign nationals working with mining companies in the Bicol Region will be evaluated, Mines and Geosciences Bureau-5 (MGB-5) officer–in-charge Theodore Rommel E. Pestaño said.

Pestaño confirmed that seven mining companies have been requested to submit lists of foreign nationals working in their companies together with their resumes and certified copies of working visas.

“Our request in in accordance with Section 62 of Republic Act 7942 otherwise known as the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 in consonance with the Consolidated Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE),” Pestaño said.

The said regulations refer to the hiring of foreigners for technical and specialized work during mining operations.

Also stated are the requirements for employment and revised rules for issuance of employment permits to foreign nationals.

Among the mining companies requested by MGB for submission of papers are: Ibalong Resources and Development Corporation/Goodfound Cement Corporation, Investwell Mneral Development Corporation, Yenlu Bicol Mining Corporation, Philippine Bao Tong, Uni-Dragon Mining and Development Corporation, Bicol Chromite and Manganese Corporation, and Filminera Resources Corporation. (MAL/SAA-PIA5, Albay/LDV-MGB5/)

Albay tops KALAHI-CIDSS Regional Awards

By Marlon A. Loterte

LEGAZPI CITY, July 27 (PIA) -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development named Albay the best province in Bicol in implementing the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS).

Remia Tapispisan, DSWD regional director, said Albay and the provinces of Sorsogon, Catanduanes and Camarines Sur were the recipients of this year’s KALAHI-CIDSS regional awards as best implementers.

At the awarding rites at Casablanca Hotel here Friday, Tapispisan lauded Albay Gov. Joey Salceda for giving financial support and effectively carrying out the program in the province.

According to a study of DSWD-ADB (Asian Development Bank), since 2008 the Provincial Government of Albay has accounted for much of P186 million in local counterpart funding to DSWD projects that amounted to P456 million infusion into Albay.

Tapispisan also congratulated the provincial government of Albay and its component local government units (LGUs) for being recipients of 22 awards.

She likewise challenged the others to match the performance of Albay.

Malinao town was the most awarded local government unit with five awards, which include Best Barangay Sub-Project Management Committee, Best Community Drive Development-Local Planning Process Harmonization, Best in Reporting and Database Management System, Best in Disaster Risk Reduction Mainstreaming and Best in LGU Finance Counterpart and Best Encoder.

Other town awardees were Libon for best in Social Mobilization, best in SPI, best in Monitoring; Rapu-rapu for best in Local Counterpart Contribution Delivery and best Municipal Financial Analyst; and Pioduran for best in sub-Project Sustainability Monitoring.

KALAHI-CIDSS is the Philippine government’s flagship poverty-alleviation project implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development through the financial support of the World Bank.

The program empowers the poor, supports poor LGUs in local development and invests heavily on people, not just projects.

Funds are released directly to the villager’s KALAHI-CIDSS bank accounts. Villagers also manage, monitor and supervise the implementation of sub-projects.

These sub-projects were implemented faster and cheaper compared to traditional implementation of projects in the Philippines. (MAL/MSA-PIA5, Albay)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Local dad, sectoral leaders in Camarines Norte impressed with PNoy’s SONA

By Rosalita B. Manlangit

DAET, Camarines Norte, July 25 (PIA) -- Daet Mayor Tito Sarion and other sectoral leaders here were impressed with the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of the President delivered Monday.

“Generally I am convinced with the services given to the people and impressed in his pursuit and accomplishment in agricultural development particularly tha the country is able to attain rice sufficiency, wherein we have high hopes that we will become exporter of rice in 2014,” he said.

The Mayor also said that he believed government must invest much in education because the youth is the future of our nation.

Fr. Edwin Visda, executive director of the Socio Pastoral Action Center Foundation Inc., said it was a good speech.

It was also commendable for the President to recognize the accomplishments of his Cabinet specially the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), where changes in the system has been done for the better.

It was also good to know that the backlogs in paving and rehabilitating the national and secondary roads are ongoing until all have been cemented and reconstructed.

He also cited changes in education where classrooms were constructed as well as the increased of beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Filipino Program (4Ps) and other social developments are very significant.

A barangay official, Wilfredo Golez, said that he rated the President an “8” because of his accomplishments in graft and corruption, 4Ps, increased in number of PhilHealth beneficiaries, and because he delivered his SONA in Filipino which all Pilipinos understood.

“The accomplishments are good, I will rate him '8,'" said Helen Abordo, assistant chief of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAg)of the SONA. (RBM-PIA 5, Camarines Norte)

New OIC for MGB 5

LEGAZPI CITY, July 25 (PIA) -- The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) regional office here has a new officer-in-charge.

Engineer Theodore Rommel E. Pestaño assumed his new post last July 19 in a simple turnover ceremony at the MGB regional office, replacing OIC Guillermo A. Molina IV, who retained his post as OIC of the Mining Environment and Safety Division.

Prior to his new post, Pestaño was the OIC of the Mining Technology Division of the MGB Central Office in Quezon City and also served as an Associate Professor at the Mapua Institute of Technology’s School of Earth and Material Science and Engineering.

He is a licensed mining engineer and has a Post Graduate Diploma in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Master of Science Degree (Environmental Science) from Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia.

Pestaño vowed to continue, if not exceed, the good works of his predecessor in striking a balance between mining and environment in the region. MAL/MGB5/PIA

NCF and DOH leads emergency obstetric training

By Analiza S. Macatangay

NAGA CITY, July 25 (PIA) -- Doctors, nurses and midwives from several rural health units and district hospitals in Camarines Sur are undergoing intensive training on Basic Emergency Obstetric Neonatal Care since July 17 until July 27.

The training was spearheaded by the Naga College Foundation, in partnership with the Department of Health and Bicol Medical Center.
Another batch is set to train from August 17 to 27.

Maria Concepcion T. Aslor, chief of the Maternal Child and Health Care, said the training is imperative for health care workers to avoid complications during childbirth and ensure the mother and child’s safety.

“Globally, it is estimated that each year, half a million women die from complications of pregnancy and delivery. Four million babies 0-28 days old die every year due to prematurity, infection and asphyxia,” Aslor said.

She added that in the Philippines, it is estimated that 4000 mothers and almost 3400 neonates die annually.

“This means we have to work hard so as lower the number of statistics,” Aslor said.

The improvement of maternal health care services is embodied in the country’s Millennium Development Goal commitment, which specifically aims to reduce maternal mortality ratio by three quarters and achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015.

The training includes discussion of the principles of good care, which consists of basic facts on counseling and its application, mobilizing community support, process flow of antenatal care and skills necessary for it, labor and delivery, among others.

Issues concerning care for new born were also discussed. These include immediate care of the newborn, newborn resuscitation, demo-return demo on newborn care, newborn examination and newborn care until discharge.

A practicum orientation will also be conducted towards the end of the training and will be highlighted with the graduation on the last day.

The activity also endeavors to promote the advocacy of raising the awareness of the mothers and strengthen the health system in an efficient and cost-effective way. (MAL/LSM-PIA5, Camarines Sur)

DENR holds consultation for 2013 P23.6-B proposed budget

LEGAZPI CITY, Albay, July 24 (PIA) -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) held a consultation for its 2013 P23.6-billion proposed budget with the Budget Initiative Environment Cluster (ABIEC) of the Social Watch Philippines (SWP).

ABIEC is a network of civil society organizations (CSO) advocating social development through budget reforms.

DENR-5 Chief Engr. Gilbert C. Gonzales said the consultation is part of the Budget Partnership Agreement (BPA) between DENR and ABIEC to gather suggestions and recommendations and come up with a consensus in further improving budget allocations for environment and natural resources sectors.

The output of the consultation will also serve as reference for the continuing effort of the DENR is making its budget more responsive especially to the changing environment concerns.

Among the organizations comprising ABIEC are Ecowaste Coalition, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, Haribon Foundation, Aksyon Klima, Partnership for Clean Air, Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya and Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities.

Highlighting the consultation are the presentation of proposed 2013 budget by the national executive committee headed by DENR Secretary Ramon Paje and the dialogue proper with representatives from various civil society organizations.

The P23.6-billion proposed budget of the DENR for 2013 is part of the expanded participatory budgeting process under the National Budget Circular (NBC) No. 536 released by the Department of Budget and Management early this year.

The amount is equivalent to approximately 1.5 percent of the total proposed national government budget for 2013 to be submitted for approval to the congress on July 24. (Sally Atento/MAL/PIA5 Albay)

Bangko Sentral sets Pawnshop Briefing and AMLA Seminar in Legazpi City

LEGAZPI CITY, July 25 (PIA) -- The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) will be conducting the Pawnshop Briefing and Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) seminar at the Multi-Purpose Hall of BSP in this city on July 26 and 27.

Sharon Moyano, BSP-Legazpi research specialist, said the event is open to pawnshop operators, foreign exchange dealer, money changers, remittance agents and other financial institutions.

"Anyone planning to set up their own pawnshop and other finance-related ventures are also invited since they can also benefit from the information to be discussed including guidelines for starters," Moyano added.

The seminar, scheduled this year in various BSP branches in the country, aims to update the participants on the amended Pawnshop regulations and anti-money laundering act.

Interested participants can go to BSP Legazpi Branch to enroll and pay the training fee pursuant to Monetary Board Resolution NO. 533 dated 7 April 2011.

Payment for the Pawnshop Briefing and AMLA Seminar is P500 and P300 for AMLA Seminar only.

For further details, contact Ms. Asela Ayala of BSP Legazpi Branch at 052-4805519 local 103. (MAL/SAA-PIA5, Albay)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Aquino pushes for modernization plan of the Armed Forces of the Philippines

President Benigno S. Aquino III pushed for the modernization of the country’s armed forces to make it more capable in addressing modern-day challenges.

In his third State of the Nation Address on Monday before the Joint Session of the 15th Congress at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City, the President said his administration was able to allocate P28 billion in less than two years for the Modernization Program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The amount allotted by the Aquino administration almost matched the P30 billion allocated by the previous administrations in the last 15 years, the chief executive said.

“Bumubuwelo pa lang po tayo sa lagay na ‘yan: kapag naipasa na ang panukala nating AFP modernization bill sa Kongreso, makakapaglaan tayo ng P75 bilyon para sa susunod na limang taon,” the President said.

“Kasado na rin po ang tatlumpung milyong dolyar na pondong kaloob ng Estados Unidos para sa Defense Capability Upgrade and Sustainment of Equipment Program ng AFP. Bukod pa po ito sa tulong nila upang pahusayin pa ang pagmanman sa ating mga baybayin sa ilalim ng itatayong Coast Watch Center ng Pilipinas,” he added.

The President also said the AFP has started shopping for modern equipment such as cannons, armored personnel carriers and frigates adding that a warship from the US would be arriving in January.

The BRP Ramon Alcaraz, the country’s second Hamilton class cutter will arrive next year, he said. Last year, the Philippine Navy commissioned the BRP Gregorio del Pilar to guard the Philippine waters.

Two C130 cargo aircraft will also augment airlift capabilities of the Philippine Air Force, the President said. This will help the single C-130 that has been operating for more than 30 years.

The President said that next year, 21 refurbished UH-1H Helicopter will be delivered to the air force, in addition to four combat utility helicopters, radio and communication equipment, rifles, mortars, mobile diagnostic laboratories and bullet station assembly.

While the government is providing equipment to soldiers and policemen, the administration is also working to make their lives better, President Aquino said.

More than 22,000 homes were constructed by the government through the AFP-PNP housing program, he said.

“Hindi po ito tungkol sa pakikipaggirian o pakikipagmatigasan. Hindi ito tungkol sa pagsisiga-sigaan. Tungkol ito sa pagkamit ng kapayapaan. Tungkol ito sa kakayahan nating ipagtanggol ang ating sarili—isang bagay na kay tagal nating inisip na imposible,” the President said.

These government efforts are also about protecting the lives of soldiers and policemen to make their jobs safer for the benefit of their families, the President concluded. (as/6:21pm)

Philhealth benefits and services are now available to 85 percent of Filipinos, says Aquino

President Benigno S. Aquino III’s advocacy to provide healthcare to more and more Filipinos is slowly becoming a reality as coverage to the national health insurance program has reached 85 percent.
This, the President said in his third State of the Nation Address at the Joint Session of the 15th Congress at the Batasan Pambansa in Quezon City on Monday, was made possible through reforms implemented in the health sector and “not on being in the good graces of politicians.”

“When we first took office, only 62 percent of Filipinos were enrolled in PhilHealth. Now, 85 percent of our citizens are members. This means that since we received our mandate, 23.31 million more Filipinos have access to PhilHealth’s array of benefits and services,” the President said.

He added that included in this increase are the 5.2 million poorest households identified by the Department of Social Welfare and its National Household Targeting System.

Now, all members can now avail the services of Philhealth-accredited hospitals and medical practitioners free of charge through the Department of Health’s No Balance Billing Policy.

“The process for our poorest PhilHealth members: Enter any government hospital. Show your PhilHealth card. Get treatment. And they return to their homes without having to shell out a single centavo,” the President said.

To address the ratio mismatch of medical practitioners to the number of Filipinos, the President said, 30,801 nurses and midwives have been deployed to remote areas of the country under the Registered Nurses for Health Enhancement and Local Service (RNHEALS) program.

“And today, because of efficient targeting, they (nurses and midwives) are deployed to where they are most needed: to areas that have been for so long left in the margins of society. We have sent our health professionals to 1,021 localities covered by the Pantawid Pamilya, and to the 609 poorest cities and municipalities, as identified by the National Anti-Poverty Commission,” the President said.

“This new system addresses two issues: thousands of nurses and midwives now have jobs and an opportunity to gain valuable work experience; at the same time, millions of our countrymen now have increased access to quality health care,” he added. (rck)

Aquino assures Filipinos of adequate protection against calamities, storms through nationwide operational assessment of hazards

President Benigno S. Aquino III assured Filipinos of adequate protection against various calamities and other destructive storms through the Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards or Project NOAH.

In his third State of the Nation Address on Monday during the Joint Session of the 15th Congress at the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City, the Chief Executive said Project NOAH was launched in Marikina last July in a bid to step up national efforts toward greater and more intensive disaster risk reduction and management procedures in the face of typhoons and calamities.

"Let us talk about the situation in Disaster Risk Reduction and Management. Once, the government, which is supposed to give aid, was the one asking for aid. Today, even when the storm is still brewing, we already know how to craft clear plans to avoid catastrophe," President Aquino said.

"Talking about disasters reminds me of the time when a typhoon struck Tarlac. The dike collapsed due to the rains; when one of the barangay captains awoke, the floods had already taken his family, as well as his farming equipment. Fortunately, the entire family survived. But the carabao they had left tied to a tree wasn’t as lucky; it was strangled to death from the force of the flood," he said.

President Aquino stressed that natural hazards inflicted loss of lives and costly damage to property in the past years.

"Many of those affected by typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng, and Sendong were just as defenseless. We lost so many lives to these natural disasters," he said.

"And now, through Project NOAH, all our anti-disaster initiatives have been brought inside one boat, and we no longer leave the evacuation of families up to mere luck. We now have the technology to give fair warning to Filipinos in order to prepare for and avoid the worst," the President said.

Through the use of advanced science and technology, the President said Project NOAH will improve disaster management capacity of the government and assure homeland security by reducing casualties and property loss from extremely hazardous events.

"Our 86 automated rain gauges and 28 water level monitoring sensors in various regions now benefit us directly and in real time. Our target before the end of 2013 are 600 automated rain gauges and 422 water level sensors. We will have them installed in 80 primary river basins around the country," he said. (js)

Aquino’s State of the Nation Address earned positive reactions

President Benigno S. Aquino III earned positive reactions from the members of both Houses of Congress - the Senate and the House of Representatives - as he delivered his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) in over two years of his six-year term of office.

In his SONA before the Joint Session of the 15th Congress at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City on Monday, President Aquino was applauded one hundred and twenty one (121) times by the audience and a standing ovation during the whole duration of his SONA which was also witnessed by the members of the cabinet, business groups, religious sector, youth and members of the Diplomatic Corps, among others.

The Chief Executive cited the major reforms being implemented in the government that has brought considerable progress to the nation and eventually uplifted the living standards of the Filipinos.

The President, together with his party, arrived at the Batasan Complex at exactly 3:40 p.m. via the Presidential convoy. Upon his arrival, the President was received by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Jessie Dellosa, House Sergeant at Arms Police Chief Superintendent Nicasio Radovan Jr. (Ret.) and Senate Sergeant at Arms MGen. Jose Balajadia Jr. (Ret.).

President Aquino then proceeded to the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, which served as the holding room.

The Joint Session was called into order at exactly 4:00 p.m. by the Senate President and the House Speaker.

The Mandaluyong Children’s Choir sang the National Anthem while religious leaders from various religious groups led the opening prayer.

The President’s one hour and twenty-minute speech also featured the Aquino administration’s continuing initiatives to achieve sustainable development that will ensure a brighter future for the Filipinos and the coming generations. (jcl/6:40 p.m.)

Aquino vows to distribute all lands covered by Comprehensive Agrarian Program during his term

President Benigno S. Aquino III vowed to distribute to legitimate farmer beneficiaries all lands covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (Carper) during his administration.

"My mother initiated the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program. It is only just that this program sees its conclusion during my term," President Aquino said in his third State of the Nation Address before the Joint Session of the 15th Congress on Monday at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.

The Chief Executive remains committed to complete the objectives of CARPER and attain a genuine agricultural development in the country.

"We are improving the system, so that we can more swiftly and more efficiently realize agrarian reform. The government is doing everything in its power to ensure that our farmers can claim as their own the land they have tilled and nurtured with their sweat," he said.

"There are those, however, who wish to obstruct us. I say to them: We will obey the law. The law says, the nation says, and I say --- Before I step down, all the land covered by CARP will have been distributed," he said. (js)

Reforms start to benefit the education sector, Aquino says

Reforms in the education sector have started to bear fruits, President Benigno S. Aquino III said, as he noted that his government was able to address shortage in classrooms and books, as well as the meager budget for the country’s state universities and colleges.

In his third State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) before the Joint Session of the 15th Congress on Monday at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City, President Aquino said his administration inherited 66,800 classroom backlogs amounting to P53.44 billion. There was also the shortage of 2,573,212 chairs worth around P2.31 billion, he noted.

But after carrying out government reforms, the President said he expects the education department to fully address the shortage in classrooms next school year. He pointed out that this year, the government was able to construct 40,000 classrooms.

According to the President, by the end of 2012, he said he expects the Department of Education to completely fill more than two-million backlogs in chairs as well as the 61.7 million textbook shortage.

“At para naman po hindi mapag-iwanan ang ating mga State Universities and Colleges, mayroon tayong panukalang 43.61 percent na pag-angat sa kanilang budget para sa susunod na taon. Paalala lang po: lahat ng ginagawa natin, may direksyon; may kaakibat na kondisyon ang dagdag-budget na ito,” the President said.

To ensure quality education being offered by the state colleges and universities, the President said the agreed SUC Reform Roadmap of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) must be carried out.

“Kung mataas ang grado ninyo sa assignment na ito, asahan ninyong dodoblehin din namin ang kayod para matugunan ang mga natitirang pangangailangan po ninyo,” he said.

The President also explained the continuing increases in education’s budget. DepEd’s 2010 budget at the start of the Aquino administration was P177 billion, he said. For 2013, the government proposed for P292.7 billion budget for education.

For SUC’s, the 2010 budget was 21.03 billion, the President said adding that his administration is making yearly increases. He said that for next year, the administration increased it to P37.13 billion. (as/7:02pm)

President Aquino pegs retirement benefits of old-age and disability pensioners at P5,000

Old-age and disability pensioners have something to look forward to next year as President Benigno S. Aquino III has pegged their retirement benefits at P5,000 a month.
The President said in his third State of the Nation Address before the Joint Session of the 15th Congress at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City on Monday that this was the State's way of saying thank you for the long years of dedicated service of government retirees.

“From the womb, to school, to work, change has touched the Filipinos. And should a life of government service be chosen, our people can expect the same level of care from the state, until retirement,” the President said.

“Our administration will recognize their contributions to our society as public servants, and will not withhold from them the pensions they themselves contributed to,” he added.

The President said he was shocked to discover that some retirees receive less than P500 a month in pension benefits, barely enough to cover the daily expenses of water, power and food.

“Our response -- when the New Year comes our resolution would be that all old-age and disability pensioners will receive no less than five thousand pesos monthly,” the President said.

He added the prudent government spending together with fiscal reforms have allowed the government to use sources to fund priority programs such as the retirement benefits.

"We are heartened that we can meet their needs now, without jeopardizing their future benefits,” the President said. (rck)

Former President Estrada cites Aquino's leadership in pursuing reforms

Former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada expressed satisfaction for the leadership of President Benigno S. Aquino III in pursuing reforms within his administration particularly in his efforts to achieve lasting progress and development to the nation.

In an interview prior to President Aquino's third State of the Nation Address (SONA) before the Joint Session of the 15h Congress at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City on Monday, Estrada noted the obvious positive effects of the efforts of the Aquino administration to effect reforms in the government.

“Malaki ang accomplishments… umakyat ang ating ekonomiya, iyon ang pinakamahalagang bagay…” Estrada said adding that the people need to give the present administration more time to perform for the benefit of the country and the Filipino citizenry.

“Iyong siyam na taon ng nakaraang administrasyon sobra-sobra ang katiwalian na nangyari, hindi naman maso-solve agad ang problema sa loob lamang ng dalawang taon kaya bigyan pa natin ng panahon ang ating kasalukuyang Pangulo para mai-ayos lahat ang mga iniwang katiwalian ng nakaraang administrasyon,” Estrada said.

When asked on his thoughts on the initiatives of the government to go after those who betrayed the people’s trust, Estrada said “Hindi naman sa naninisi kaya lang dapat lipulin lahat ang mga nagnakaw sa kaban ng bayan”. (jcl/7:12 p.m.)

President Aquino asks for the public to support the country's claim in the West Philippine Sea

President Benigno S. Aquino III asked for public support in connection with the country’s territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea adding that he has been consulting with experts and working for a diplomatic solution to the dispute.

“Kaya nga po hinihiling ko sa sambayanan ang pakikiisa sa isyung ito. Iisa lang po dapat ang kumpas natin. Tulungan ninyo akong iparinig sa kabilang panig ang katuwiran ng ating mga paninindigan,” the President said in his third State of the Nation address before the Joint Session of the 15th Congress at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City on Monday.

“Hindi po simple ang sitwasyon, at hindi magiging simple ang solusyon. Magtiwala po kayo --- kumokonsulta tayo sa mga eksperto, at sa lahat ng pinuno ng ating bansa, pati na sa kaalyado natin—gayundin sa mga nasa kabilang panig ng usaping ito—upang makahanap ng solusyon na katanggap-tanggap sa lahat,” he added.

The Philippines has shown patience and calmness in handling the present stand-off with China, the President said, as he expressed hope that the Chinese government and its people will also respect the Philippine position.

As to proposals advising the Philippine government to abandon its claims, such move would be unacceptable for him, the President said.

“Kung may pumasok sa inyong bakuran at sinabing ang kanyang kinatatayuan ay sa kanya na, papayag ba kayo? Hindi naman po yata tamang ipamigay na lang natin sa iba ang sadyang atin talaga,” he said.

The Philippine government said it wants a peaceful resolution to the dispute through dialogue with China. It also proposed to raise the issue to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS, a proposal opposed by China.

The members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have also agreed to the so-called six-point principles to resolve conflicting claims in the West Philippine Sea.

China claims the West Philippine Sea nearly in its entirety, while Taiwan is also pursuing its own claim. ASEAN member countries seeking ownership over the disputed territory include Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines. (as/7:26pm)

Aquino remains committed to fight corruption

President Benigno S. Aquino III renewed his resolved Monday to fight corruption and injustice in the country reiterating that he will continue to hold accountable those who committed wrongdoings in the previous administration.

In his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) before the Joint Session of the 15th Congress at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City on Monday, the President said that while his administration carries out bureaucratic reforms there are those who continue to oppose his initiatives and derail his plans.

“Sa bawat hakbang sa tuwid na daan, nagpunla tayo ng pagbabago. Ngunit may mangilan-ngilan pa ring pilit na bubunot nito. Habang nagtatalumpati ako ngayon, may mga nagbubulung-bulungan sa isang silid at hinihimay ang aking mga sinasabi; naghahanap ng butas na ipambabatikos bukas. Sasabihin nila, ‘Salita lang ito, at hindi totoo ang tuwid na landas.’ Sila na rin po ang magsasabing hayaan na, magkaisa na; forgive and forget na lang para makausad na tayo,” the President said.

“Hindi ko po matatanggap ito. Forgive and forget na lang ang sampung taon na nawala sa atin? Forgive and forget na lang para sa magsasakang nabaon sa utang dahil sa kakaangkat natin ng bigas, gayong puwede naman palang pagyamanin sa ating sariling lupa?”

Filipinos shouldn’t forgive and forget those who erred and wanted to retain the status quo, including the perpetrators of the Maguindanao massacre.

“Ang tugon ko, ang magpatawad, maaari; ang makalimot, hindi. Kung ang nagkasala ay hindi mananagot, gagarantiyahan mo ang pagpapahirap muli sa sambayanan,” the President stressed.

“Ang tunay na pagkakaisa at pagkakasunduan ay magmumula lamang sa tunay at ganap na katarungan. Katarungan ang tawag sa plunder case na isinampa laban sa dating pangulo.”

With the charges filed against the former leader, she’ll have an opportunity to defend herself in court, the President said noting that this is the only way to attain justice.

The removal from office of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is also a significant achievement in the country’s quest for justice, the President said, adding that the recent impeachment trial against the former chief magistrate proved that there’s equality under the law. (as/7:44pm)

President Aquino cites Filipinos as inspiration for his 3rd State of the Nation Address

President Benigno S. Aquino III cited the Filipino people as his inspiration in delivering his third State of the Nation Address before the Joint Session of the 15th Congress at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City on Monday.
The President said the indomitable and positive spirit of Filipinos to rise above challenges in their quest for change was the wellspring that guided his Administration in the last two years.

“This is what I have learned in the 25 months I have served as your President: nothing is impossible. Nothing is impossible because if the Filipino people see that they are the only Bosses of their government, they will carry you, they will guide you, they themselves will lead you towards meaningful change,” the President said.

“I stand before you today as the face of a government that knows you as its Boss, and draws its strength from you. I am only here to narrate the changes that you yourselves have made possible,” he added.

The President’s SONA centered on his administration’s efforts to improve the delivery of services from the different branches, offices and agencies of government.

These include electricity; infrastructure projects such as highways, bridges, airports, trains, and ports; fair contracts; peace in our cities and our rural areas; every classroom, desk, and book assigned to a child; and every Filipino granted a future.

“This is why, to all the nurses, midwives, or doctors who chose to serve in the barrios; to each new graduate who has chosen to work for the government; to each Filipino athlete who proudly carries the flag in any corner of the globe, to each government official who renders true and honest service: You made this change possible,” the President said.

“I repeat: what was once impossible is now possible. I stand before you today and tell you: this is not my SONA. You made this happen. This is the SONA of the Filipino nation,” he added. (rck)

Aquino confident Congress will pass law on mining

President Benigno S. Aquino III expressed confidence that Congress would pass a law on mining in a bid to improve environmental mining standards and increase government revenues to promote sustainable economic development and social growth.

"Umaasa po tayo sa pakikiisa ng Kongreso upang makapagpasa ng batas na sisigurong mapapangalagaan ang kalikasan at matitiyak na makatarungan ang magiging pakinabang ng publiko at pribadong sektor sa mga biyayang makukuha natin mula sa industriyang ito," President Aquino said in his third State of the Nation Address on Monday during the Joint Session of the 15th Congress at the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City.

Last July 6, the Chief Executive signed Executive Order No. 79 to strengthen environmental protection, promote responsible mining and provide a more equitable revenue-sharing scheme amid the projected boom in the sector.

"Mapayapang pag-uusap rin po ang prinsipyong isinulong natin upang mabuo ang ating Executive Order ukol sa pagmimina. Ang kaisipan sa likod ng nabuong consensus: mapakinabangan ang ating likas na yaman upang iangat ang buhay ng Pilipino, hindi lamang ngayon kundi pati na rin sa susunod na salinlahi. Hindi natin pipitasin ang ginintuang bunga ng industriyang ito, kung ang magiging kabayaran ay ang pagkasira ng kalikasan," he said.

The President said the passage of legislation on mining is still needed to complement the Executive Order.

"Ngunit unang hakbang lamang ito. Isipin po ninyo: Noong 2010, 145 billion pesos ang kabuuang halaga na nakuha mula sa pagmimina, subalit 13.4 billion pesos lamang o siyam na porsyento ang napunta sa kaban ng bayan. Ang likas na yamanay pag-aari ninyo; hindi tayo papayag na balato lang ang mapupunta sa Pilipino," he said. (js)

Aquino confident about the country achieving targetted 4.6 million tourist arrivals for 2012

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday expressed confidence that the Philippines will achieve its target of 4.6 million tourist arrivals for 2012, saying that more tourists will visit the country before the end of the year.

During his third State of the Nation Address before the Joint Session of the 15th Congress at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City, the President said that the number of tourist arrivals by June of this year had reached 2.1 million. He is optimistic that more tourists will arrive during the peak season.

President Aquino said that in 2001 under the previous administration, the Philippines was only able to attract 1.8 million foreign tourists to visit the country. When the Aquino administration assumed office, he said the number of tourists had grown to only around 3.1 million.

“Mantakin po ninyo: sa hinaba-haba ng kanilang administrasyon, ang naidagdag nilang tourist arrivals, 1.3 million lamang; may ambag pa kaming kalahating taon diyan,” the President said.

“Tayo naman po, Hunyo pa lang ng 2012—2.1 million na turista na ang napalapag. Mas marami pang dadagsa sa peak season bago matapos ang taon, kaya hindi ako nagdududang maaabot natin ang quota na 4.6 million na turista para sa 2012,” he said.

“Ibig sabihin po: 1.5 million na turista ang ating maidadagdag. Samakatuwid, sa dalawang taon, mas malaki ang magiging paglago ng ating tourist arrivals, kumpara sa naidagdag ng pinalitan natin sa loob ng siyam at kalahating taon. Hindi po tayo nagtataas ng bangko; nagsasabi lang po tayo ng totoo,” he further said.

President Aquino said that if Filipinos continue to embody the “same solidarity” that allowed the Puerto Princesa Underground River to become one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, there is no doubt that the country will be able to reach its goal of 10 million foreign tourists by 2016.

The Puerto Princesa Underground River was named one of the world’s New 7 Wonders of Nature (N7WN) early this year. It is located some 50 kilometers north of the city of Puerto Princesa in the province of Palawan.

During his State of the Nation Address, the President also lauded Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez for his efforts to promote the country’s tourism campaign “It‘s more fun in the Philippines.”

“Ang pahayag nga po natin sa daigdig: “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” Kahit wala pang isang taon sa puwesto si Secretary Mon Jimenez, nagagapas na natin ang positibong bunga ng ating mga naipunlang reporma,” he said. (co)

Stronger economy shields the country from global uncertainty, Aquino says

While many countries struggle to regain their footing in the midst of the global economic slowdown, President Benigno S. Aquino III said the Philippines was able to strengthen its economy through reforms and good leadership.

“Tunay nga po: Ang matatag at malakas na ekonomyang pinanday ng mabuting pamamahala ang pinakamabisang kalasag laban sa mga hamon na kinakaharap ng daigdig. Dalawang taon po nating binaklas ang mga balakid sa pag-unlad, at ngayon, tayo na lang mismo ang makakapigil sa ating sariling pag-angat,” the President said during his third State of the Nation Address at Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City on Monday.

“Hindi po tayo nag-iisa sa mundo, kaya’t habang tinutugunan natin ang sarili nating mga suliranin, angkop lamang na bantayan din ang ilang pangyayaring maaaring makaapekto sa atin,” he added.

The President boasted recent changes in the way investors do business in the Philippines. He said that in the past administration, businessmen weren’t confident in putting their money in the country because of corruption and secrecy in government policies.

“Ngayon, dahil patas na ang laban, at may hayag at hindi pabagu-bagong mga patakaran, patuloy ang pagtaas ng kumpiyansa sa ating ekonomya. Patuloy ang pagpasok ng puhunan; patuloy ang pagdami ng trabaho; patuloy ang positibong siklo ng pagkonsumo, paglago ng negosyo, at pagdami ng mamamayang na-eempleyo,” he said.

“Dahil maayos ang paggugol ng gobyerno, walang tagas sa sistema. Dahil maayos ang pangkolekta ng buwis, lumalago ang kaban ng bayan. Bawat pisong nakokolekta, tiyak ang pupuntahan: Piso itong diretso sa kalsada, piso para sa bakuna, piso para sa classroom at upuan, piso para sa ating kinabukasan,” he said.

As a result of a more efficient tax collection, the government could sufficiently fund projects such as construction of bridges, roads, and other infrastructures. These reforms also result to better the flow of goods and services to the people.

According to the President, the agriculture sector also benefited from these reforms adding that food production, stability of prices, and better wages were the end results of these reforms. (as/8:27pm)

Aquino cites country’s rice, coco coir export potentials

President Benigno S. Aquino III said his administration will focus on the country’s agriculture sector recognizing its potential for exporting different agricultural products.

In his third State of the Nation Address at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City on Monday, the President said, the Philippines could export rice next year as well as increasing its capacity to ship out coco water as well as coco coir.

While farmers disposed coco water as waste in the past, it is now a source of income for them because of its export potentials, the Chief Executive said.

“Noong 2009—483,862 liters ng cocowater ang iniluwas natin. Umangat po ito ng 1,807,583 liters noong 2010. Huwag po kayong magugulat: noong 2011 --- 16,756,498 liters liters ng cocowater ang in-export ng Pilipinas,” he said.

In the case of coco coir, the product that seemed to be unimportant in the past is now very important to farmers and exporters, the President said.
The President asked the people to seize the opportunity to export this product vowing to allocate more money for modern processing equipment of coco coir.

“Hindi natin sasayangin ang pagkakataong ito: bibili pa tayo ng mga bagong makinang magpoproseso ng bunot para makuha ang mga hiblang ginagawa mula sa coco coir. Sa susunod na taon, lalo nating mapapakinabangan ang industriya ng niyog: Naglaan na tayo ng P1.75 billion upang mamuhunan at palaguin ito,” President Aquino said.

Although the country was a major rice importer in the past, the agriculture department was able to reverse this trend. Next year if good weather permits, the Philippines could ship rice overseas, the President said.

The previous government imported two million metric tons of rice in 2010 and this large volume ended up in government warehouses and left to rot, he said.

The present government reduced the volume of rice imports, and this year, it only imported 500,000 tons, including the buffer stock intended for the time of disasters. (as/8:48pm)

Government continues to push for reforms in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to attain genuine peace

President Benigno S. Aquino III said his administration has taken significant steps to improve the peace and order situation in the country by defeating over 1,700 outlaws and initiating reforms in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

"Tagumpay pong maituturing ang dalawandaan at tatlong rebeldeng sumuko at nagbabalik-loob na sa lipunan, at ang 1,772 na bandidong nawakasan na ang karahasan. Halimbawa po ang kilabot na teroristang si Doctor Abu, na hindi na makakapaghasik ng kaniyang lagim," President Aquino said in his third State of the Nation Address on Monday during the Joint Session of the 15th Congress at the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City.

With the vigorous efforts of all law enforcement agencies, peace and order were restored in most places in the country.

"Nagpupugay rin po tayo sa panunumbalik ng katahimikan sa mga lugar na matagal nang biningi ng putukan. Ang resulta nga po ng bayanihan: 365 na barangay ang naagaw sa kamay ng kaaway, 270 na gusali’t paaralan ang naipaayos, at 74 health centers ang naipagawa," he said.

The Chief Executive said the government continues to push for reforms in the ARMM in order to attain genuine peace and order in the region.

"Kung kapayapaan na lang din po ang usapan, dumako naman tayo sa lugar na matagal naging mukha ng mga mithiing ‘di makamtan-kamtan. Bago po magsimula ang mga reporma natin sa ARMM, at alam naman po n’yo, may mga ghost students doon, na naglalakad sa isang ghost road, tungo sa isang ghost school, para magpaturo sa isang ghost teacher," he said.

"Iniimbestigahan na rin ang mga teacher na hindi lumilitaw ang pangalan sa talaan ng Professional Regulation Commission, gayundin ang mga tauhan ng gobyernong hindi nakalista sa plantilya. Limampu’t limang ghost entry ang tinanggal sa payroll. Ang dating paulit-ulit na pagsasaboy ng graba sa kalsada para lang pagkakitaan ng pera, bawal na," he said.

The President lauded Officer-In-Charge Govenor Mujiv Hataman for the reforms in the region, including the cleansing of the voters' list. "Wala nang cash advance sa mga ahensya, para maiwasan ang pagsasamantala. Ang mga multo sa voters list, mapapatahimik na ang kaluluwa," he said.

"Ang pumalit po --- pabahay, tulay, at learning center para sa mga Badjao sa Basilan. Mga community-based hatchery, lambat, materyales para maglinang ng seaweeds, at punlang napakinabangan ng 2,588 na mangingisda. Certified seeds, punla ng gabi, cassava, goma, at mga punong namumunga para sa 145,121 na magsasaka," he said.

The President said the government allocates more funds for the ARMM's development. He said the government set aside P183 million for fire stations; P515 million for clean drinking water; P551.9 million for health-care equipment; P691.9 million for daycare centers; and P2.85 billion for the roads and bridges across the region.

"Ilan lang po iyan sa patutunguhan ng kabuuang 8.59 billion pesos na ipinagkaloob ng pambansang gobyerno para isakatuparan ang mga reporma sa ARMM. Lilinawin ko rin po: hindi pa kasama rito ang taunang suportang natatanggap nila, na ngayong 2012 ay umabot sa 11.7 billion pesos," he stressed.

"Sa peace process naman po: hayag at lantaran ang usapan; nagpapamalas ang magkabilang panig ng tiwala sa isa’t isa. Maaaring minsan, magiging masalimuot ang proseso; signos lang po ito na malapit na nating makamit ang nag-iisa nating mithiin--- ang kapayapaan," he said. (js)

Monday, July 23, 2012

PNoy SONA 2012

On July 23, 2012, President Benigno S. Aquino III will deliver his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) during a joint session to mark the opening of the third regular session of the 15th Congress of the Philippines.

There have been 72 SONAs, and the forthcoming address of President Aquino III will be the 73rd since 1936 and the 26th since the restoration of democratic rule under the Fifth Republic in 1987.

The SONA delivered by the President is a yearly tradition wherein the chief executive reports on the status of the country, unveils the government’s agenda for the coming year, and may also propose to Congress certain legislative measures. The SONA is a constitutional obligation, as written in Article VII, Section 23 of the 1987 Constitution: “[t]he President shall address the Congress at the opening of its regular session.” 

Moreover, Article VI, Section 15 prescribes that the Congress “shall convene once every year on the fourth Monday of July for its regular session.”

Traditions and Procedure

Session Hall of Batasan Pambansa during the 2011 SONA of President Benigno S. Aquino III.
The President of the Philippines appears before Congress upon its invitation, for which purpose a joint session is held in the Session Hall of the House of Representatives. Congress issues tickets, and all preparations are undertaken with Congress as the official host.

On Monday morning, both the House of Representatives and the Senate hold their respective sessions in their respective chambers and elect their officials. Thereafter, a concurrent resolution is filed stating that both chambers are ready to hear the address of the President. Sessions of both Houses are suspended.

In the afternoon, the President is met at Batasan Pambansa, either planeside or carside, by the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Sergeants-at-Arms of both Houses of Congress. The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces will then escort the President past the Honor Guard. At this point, the military escort of the President is relieved of duty and replaced by the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Representatives, symbolizing the independence of the Legislature. The President is then escorted to the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO), which serves as the chief executive’s office in the House Representatives. The leaders of both chambers traditionally pay a courtesy call to the President in the PLLO.

A Welcoming Committee, appointed by and among peers in both Chambers of Congress, accompany the President into the Session Hall. Upon his entry to the Session Hall, the Speaker of the House announces the arrival of the President, who takes his position between the Senate President and the Speaker of the House. The Joint Session of Congress is thereafter called to order, followed by the singing of the national anthem and the invocation. After which, the President descends to the rostrum to deliver the SONA.

After the message of the President, the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate close the Joint Session of Congress for their respective Chambers.

The life span of each Congress begins and ends with the election of members of the House of Representatives, who are to serve for three years. The life span of a Congress is subdivided in turn into three regular sessions, each corresponding to a calendar year. Thus, the SONA marks the opening of each regular session of Congress.

The number of each given Congress—for example, the present 15th Congress—is based on how many congresses were held since Philippine independence was recognized by the Americans on July 4, 1946. Thus, the last (which was the First) Congress of the Commonwealth of the Philippines became the First Congress of the Republic of the Philippines. This count was maintained until martial law was declared by President Ferdinand Marcos in 1972. With the restoration of the Bicameral Legislature in 1987, it was decided to maintain the count, taking up where the last pre-martial law Congress left off. Thus, the last Congress under the 1935 Constitution was the Seventh Congress, and the First Congress under the 1987 Constitution became the Eighth Congress.

The current 15th Congress will last until June 30, 2013.

Slain soldier’s kin finds hope in Hero Foundation

By Analiza S. Macatangay

NAGA CITY, July 23 (PIA) -- Twenty-four scholars in the Bicol Region share one fate with hundreds of orphaned children all over the country – they are all children of slain men in uniform killed in action.

The scholarships were facilitated by Help Educate and Rear Orphans or Hero Foundation, Inc., a non-stock, non-profit organization founded by former President Corazon C. Aquino in 1988.

Hero Foundation has been in existence for the past 24 years and has never waned in its commitment to provide educational assistance to the orphans of men in uniform.

In Camarines Sur, there are eight beneficiaries from Grades 2 to 4th year high school currently enrolled in Ragay Central School and Ragay Science and Math Oriented High School both in the municipality of Ragay, Colegio de Santisimo Rosario in Libmanan, Bato North Central School , Sta. Justina West Elementary School in Buhi, Iriga South Central School and University of Saint Anthony both in Iriga City and Pasacao Academy.

Scholars are also in different schools in Naga City, Camarines Norte, Albay, and Sorsogon.

Michelle Chan, Hero Foundation, Inc. director for Marketing and Resource Mobilization was in Naga to seek the city government’s help in raising the awareness of Bicolanos about the plight of these military orphans and encourage business sectors, schools, universities, organizations, and individuals secure the future of these orphans by supporting their advocacy.

“Come September, we will be in Naga for the activity cum fund-raising concert dubbed, "Saludo: A concert for Heroes!” We hope that Naga will really bring smiles to the face of our beneficiaries by giving their all out support in this endeavor,” Chan said in an interview.

Every year, Filipino soldiers are killed or incapacitated in line of duty. Based on Hero’s record, each fallen soldier leaves an average of three school-aged children . Hero’s mission is to provide educational assistance in the form of stipends to children or siblings of Filipino soldiers killed in action, or totally incapacitated due to combat action.

To date, 2, 261 scholars are benefiting from the Foundation, 888 of whom already graduated from college and 699 remain active scholars. Forty-one percent of the military orphans are in Mindanao, 33 percent in Luzon, 18 percent in the Visayas region, and only 8 percent from the National Capital Region.

“Hero aims to help more children obtain a college degree or a certificate in a vocational course through a consistent and secured education support from other stakeholders, particularly from individual with benevolent hearts,” Chan said in closing. (MAL/LSM-PIA5, Camarines Sur)

Filing cases at prosecutor’s office in Masbate now free of charge

By Ernesto A. Delgado

MASBATE CITY, July 23 (PIA) -- Crime victims will find it easier to file their case in court, there is now a directive from Department of Justice that allows them to seek justice at no filing cost.

The DOJ prosecution arm here has begun enforcing the directive of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to stop the collection of fees from individuals filing criminal complaints and other pleadings with the department.

Fe Almodiel of the City Prosecution Office (CPO) said the order for her to cease collecting those fees was given by prosecutor Edmundo O. Legaspi upon his return from a conference of state prosecutors with the justice secretary in Manila.

Those fees are exacted on certifications, clearances, administrative and criminal complaints, appeals or petitions for review and other pleadings.

In a statement posted in the DOJ website, De Lima said her Department Circular 25 will, “Address the recurring issue of denial of access to justice by parties and litigants in imposing an exaction on the redress of wrongs when filing criminal complaints.”

In issuing the circular, De Lima revoked four previous DOJ orders which set legal and docket fees for various cases.

Before De Lima’s order, those filing cases in the CPO had to fork out as much as P5,000 in fees, which was then remitted to the national treasury and used to fund the special allowances of members of the National Prosecution Service as decreed in RA 9279.

But the implementation of the Salary Standardization Law has already allowed government prosecutors to receive a full increase in their basic salary, the justice secretary said in her order.

As adjustment by 100 percent of the basic salary of prosecutors has already been reached, “the fees authorized to be collected…shall no longer be collected,” De Lima said. (MAL/EAD-PIA5, Masbate)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Albay population reaches 1.2M

By Sally Atento

LEGAZPI CITY, July 22 (PIA) -- The National Statistics Office (NSO) reported that population of Albay province has reached 1,233,432.

Based on the result of the Census of Population and Housing, conducted from May to June 2012, there has been an increase of about 143,000 individuals over the last 10 years.

NSO 5 Regional Dir. Cynthia L. Perdiz said among the province's three cities, Legazpi posted the largest population at 182,201 persons. The city is followed by Tabaco with 125,083 and Ligao with 104,914.

For the municipalities, Daraga was the most populated at 115,804 while Jovellar was the least populated at 16,899. Daraga was followed by Sto. Domingo with 32,414 and Manito with 22,819.

Taysan in Legazpi City listed 11,418 in population and was the only barangay with more 10,000 persons. Taysan was followed by Anislag in Daraga with 9,445 and Upper Bonga in Bacacay with 7,468.

Perdiz said the province of Albay registered a 1.23 percent annual population growth rate in general.

“The population of Albay increased at the rate of 1.23 percent annually during the period 2000 – 2010. This means that from 2000 to 2010, approximately 12 persons are added per year for every population in the province,” she added.

However, Jovellar is the only area with negative population growth rate of -0.27 percent. As of May 2010, its population is 16,899 which is lower by 458 persons of the 17, 357 persons recorded in 2000.

The rest of the cities and municipalities posted positive growth rate with Rapu-Rapu taking the lead at 2.09 percent. It is followed by Legazpi at 1.50 percent, Ligao at 1.48 percent and Tabaco at 1.56 percent.

The Census of Population and Housing is pursuant to Batas Pambansa Bilang 72, which provided NSO the authority to undertake an integrated census every 10 years on the number of residents of the country and their available housing units. Census data are used as bases in the formulation of economic development plans and programs. (MAL/SAA-PIA5/Albay)

P60.9-M road rehab in Sorsogon completed, could last for 50 years

By Marlon A. Loterte

LEGAZPI CITY, July 22 (PIA) -- The rehabilitation or upgrading of damaged national road of Ariman-Junction Bulusan Lake Road in the province of Sorsogon has been completed.

“We are grateful to Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for giving us a good quality road, wide and thick, everything. A very good road,” said Catalino Sesbreno, a resident of Bulusan, Sorsogon and member of board of directors of the Sorsogon Electric Cooperative.

The project was allocated P65.5 million, but through competitive bidding process, the project was completed with a bid of P60.9 million.

“I witnessed the construction of this project from the start to completion, along with the other residents here, we were really impressed. I believe, this road project will exist up to 50 years,” he said.

The Ariman-Junction Bulusan Lake Road covers an approximate length of 7.026 km connecting the municipalities of Gubat and Bulusan in Sorsogon. The road leads to government centers, schools, agricultural lands, and to major tourist destinations such as Mount Bulusan and beach resorts located in the municipality and adjacent towns.

DPWH also included the construction of slope protection structures and drainage to lessen, if not totally get rid of, the occurrence of slides and road cuts.

“The implementation of this project was smooth sailing,” said DPWH-5 Regional Director Danilo Dequito.

“We are thankful to the local officials and residents of Bulusan, its neighboring barangays for their cooperation and disregard of inconveniences while the project was being constructed. Be assured that we will continue the '3Rs' advocacy of DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson: right project, right cost and right quality,” Dequito concluded. (MAL-PIA 5/LVCastañeda-DPWH5/PIA)

Feature:A better life given a chance at education (A Pantawid Pamilya story)

By AAMayor/JPPasano

“Pasalamaton ako ta maski huri na, sa edad na trese, naranasan ko pang makatuntong nin grade one. Asin lima sa samuyang siyam na magturugang ang nagkaigwa nin pagkakataon na maka-eskwela, dahil sa Pantawid Pamilya. (I am very thankful that even if it may seem too late, at the age of 13, I was able to set foot in first grade. And out of nine siblings, five of us had the opportunity to attend school because of Pantawid Pamilya),” Luzviminda De La Pena of Legazpi City said.

“Para sa arog ming tios, mas pigtatawan importansya an magkaigwa nin laog an tulak kesa sa iba pang mga bagay (For poor people like us, having a full stomach is given more importance above anything else),” Luzviminda's mother, Lorna, added.

Poverty explains why her children did not have the chance to go to school, prior to being a Pantawid Pamilya recipient.
Unhappy Beginnings

Nanay Lorna came from a poor family. At an early age, she sold vegetables and other root crops just to help her parents earn, so that they could have something to eat. With this situation, she was deprived of an easy life and never had the opportunity to attend school.

And so she thought of changing her fate. She left her family and got married at the age of 16.

Yet, the better life that she dreamt never realized. In fact, it became harder, having a husband who was unschooled and having nine children to feed.

Nanay Lorna became a fish vendor but the P100 to P200 measly income was just enough for their meals. Her husband also helped her sell fresh fish and occasionally worked as a construction worker.

Being a fish vendor, she and her husband had to be at the market as early as 4 a.m., leaving their children unattended at home.

And since they did not have a fish stall, they usually run and hid every time a policeman came along. They stayed in the market until all their fish were sold. This had been their routine and they thought that being able to provide food for their children was enough. Taking care of them and guiding their ways were never given priority.

“Kung dae kami matrabaho, dae kaming kakaunon. Makulog para sa sarong magurang na nahihiling mong nagugutom an saimong mga aki pero dae kang maginibo. Kaya kinaipuhan ming magsakripisyo para sainda (If we don’t work, we won’t have something to eat. It’s really painful for a parent to see her children hungry and yet there is nothing we can do. And so we had to sacrifice for their welfare),” said Nanay Lorna.

But challenges and hardships came their way.

“Grabe an pagbasul ko kan saro sa mga aki ko an nagadan dahilan sa napabayaan. Naghahale kaya kami nin atab asin nag-uuli kami banggi na. Sinda-sinda lang ang nawawalat. (What I regret the most was when one of my children died because he was not properly taken care of. We would leave early and we came home late. My children were left by themselves),” she said.

One of their neighbors shared that there was even a time when the couple went to work and had nothing (even a centavo) to leave behind for their children’s needs. Seeing his younger siblings cry of hunger, one of Nanay Lorna’s child was forced to steal. But the community could not condemn him because the child did it to buy milk and food for his siblings.

More than Thankful

Through the implementation of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, a human development and rights-based program of the national government that invests in the health and education of poor households, particularly of children 0 to 14 years old, through the provision of conditional cash grants, Nanay Lorna can now send five of her children to school.

One of them is Luzviminda, who, at the start of program implementation in 2010, was aged 13.

“Pirmi ko pighahapot si mama kun nata ta ngunyan sana niya ako pinaadal (I oftentimes ask my mother why she let me study just now.)” said Luzviminda.

According to Nanay Lorna, Luzviminda’s birth, just like her siblings, was unregistered: therefore, she cannot comply with the school requirements. Aside from the fact that their family income was not enough, there were also other expenses that had to be prioritized. Not to mention that her oldest daughter lived with them together with her grandchildren.

When free registration of birth was offered in their barangay in support to Pantawid Pamilya, was the only time Lorna finally registered her daughter.

“Kun bako sa Pantawid Pamilya, dae makakatuntong an mga aki ko maski sa elementarya. Kaya dakulaon an pasalamat ko sa programa (If not for Pantawid Pamilya’s help, all my children will not be able to even set foot in elementary. I am most grateful to the program),” she said.

As for Luzviminda, in spite of her embarrassment being the oldest in their class, she strives and study hard to finish her schooling. Even at her age as compared with her classmates, she manages to be at the honor roll. This makes Lorna proud.

When asked what her dream is, in tears, Luzviminda said that it is to land a good job and have a better life for her family. (MAL/PIA5/AAMayor/JPPasano-DSWD5)