06 August 2015

Palace defends initiatives to attain inclusive growth, long-term reforms
The government must sustain a high growth trajectory in the coming years to realize the goals of the righteous path being championed by the administration, a Palace official said on Thursday.

Commenting on observations made during the Ateneo Eagle Watch Mid-Year Briefing 2015 that the Aquino government’s weakness is its lack of long-term vision, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said that President Benigno S. Aquino III has described his concrete vision for the country in his previous addresses.

Citing an example, Secretary Coloma said that in the President’s recent State of the Nation Address (SONA), he presented a graph showing the trajectory of the Philippines’ economic growth under the “daang matuwid”.

The President highlighted the need for a sustained economic growth in the coming years to achieve the goals of his reform initiatives, Coloma told reporters during the daily press briefing in Malacañang.

From 2010 to 2014, the five-year average gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6.2 percent is the highest the country has achieved in the past four decades and if the Philippines posts a GDP growth of 6.8 percent this year, it will be the country’s highest growth in six decades, Coloma said, citing the figures mentioned by the President.

The President however pointed out in his SONA that five or six years of successive excellent growth will not be enough to have a long-term impact, he said.

“Kinakailangan ay ‘yung sustained high growth trajectory na tinatawag na pwedeng matamo kung maipagpapatuloy at magiging permanente ang mga reporma na alinsunod sa tuwid na daan,” Coloma said.

“Kaya nga ang pinupunto natin dito, mahalaga na maipagpatuloy ang mga reporma na sinimulan na sa kasalukuyang administrasyon.”

To achieve this goal, he said, one of the major thrusts of the government is to invest in its people, as the President has stated many times.

The Philippines is also in a “demographic sweet spot”, in which a huge percentage of its population belongs to the productive age of 15 years old to 64 years old as a result of its high population growth.

“Kaya kapag pinagsabay ‘yung demographic sweet spot na ito sa sustained high growth ng ating ekonomiya ay matatamo natin ang inaasam na long-term inclusive growth na mapapakinabangan ng maraming mamamayan,” he said.

Fighting corruption is not just a slogan for the government, Coloma said, emphasizing that it is one of the pillars of the Philippine Development Plan, along with sustained inclusive growth, climate change adaptation, peace and order and security, social development and poverty reduction, and good governance.

“Kaya po pinapalakas natin ang ating mga pampublikong institusyon sa pambansa at sa lokal na antas sa pamamagitan ng mga iba’t ibang programa katulad ng seal of transparency, citizen’s charter, performance-based bonus, at iba pa,” he explained.

“Iyan po ang pagpapatunay na hindi lang slogan ang paglaban sa korupsyon. Pinapalakas po natin ang ating mga pampublikong institusyon.” PND (as)

Palace says lawmakers to discuss Bangsamoro draft Law after proposed national budget
The House of Representatives is set to deliberate on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) after discussing the General Appropriations Act, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said on Thursday.

“Doon sa schedule ng Kamara, uunahin nila ang deliberasyon at pagdinig hinggil sa proposed national budget dahil kailangang manggaling sa kanila ito bago ito maiakyat sa Senado. Kaya susundin nila ang kanilang timetable… at ‘pag natapos na sa takdang panahon, ipagpapatuloy nila ang tungkol sa BBL,” he said during a press briefing in Malacañang.

Meanwhile, the Senate is awaiting the report of the Committee on Local Government, chaired by Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., based on its hearings on the BBL.

“Ayon sa pahayag ni Senate President (Franklin) Drilon, sisimulan na ang pagtalakay nito sa Senado kapag naisumite na sa darating na linggo ang committee report hinggil dito,” Secretary Coloma said.

“Kami naman ay nananalig sa ibinigay na deklarasyon ng liderato ng Kongreso na patuloy pa rin ang pagtrabaho hinggil sa napapanahong pagpasa ng BBL,” he added. PND (ag)

Philippines’ position on South China Sea issue gaining support, says Palace official
The Philippines is pleased that its position in the South China Sea issue is already gaining support from members of the international community with stakes in the maritime dispute, a Palace official said on Thursday.

Countries calling on China to stop its reclamation work in the South China Sea are beginning to understand the current realities and they are responding in the most appropriate manner, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said.

“Kung dati nga ay hindi nagpapahayag ng ganyang posisyon ang karamihan, kapansin-pansin na sa ngayon ay nagkaroon na ng pangkalahatang pagtanggap sa realidad na noon pa natin ipinapahayag,” he said during a press briefing in Malacañang.

“At ito ay magandang follow-up doon din sa naging statement at the end of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit in Kuala Lumpur last April, in which the member nations of the ASEAN already called attention sa mga nagaganap sa South China Sea at pinunto na noon na dapat ay pairalin ang Declaration on the Conduct of Parties.”

The Philippines, he said, must continue sending this message to the members of the international community for them to grasp these realities and prevent powerful countries from coercing smaller ones.

Asked how the Philippines could call on the international community to react to China’s activities, Secretary Coloma said he believes recent calls for China to halt reclamation work in the disputed territory will gain considerable momentum.

For instance, apart from ASEAN members, the United States, the G7 countries as well as the European community are also asking China to stop, he said.

He further said that the world has economic interdependence and the ASEAN, being an economic group, is vital to international trade and commerce.

Strong economic relations among countries could not exist if there is no freedom of navigation and if regional peace and stability are compromised because of China’s aggressive behavior, he explained.

“Kaya sa ating palagay ay mapaparating naman ang mensaheng ito sa kinauukulan at mapapatunayan natin ang kapangyarihan ng prinsipyo na ‘right is might’ sa halip na ‘might is right’,” he said.

Members of the ASEAN participating in the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Kuala Lumpur have called on China to halt its reclamation activities in the South China Sea.

The Philippines has filed a case in the international arbitration tribunal, hoping to stop China’s intrusion in its territory. PND (as)

Malacañang welcomes $2 billion pledge from Japan for elevated railway
The Palace on Thursday welcomed the pledge of the government of Japan for a $2 billion (240 billion Japanese yen) Official Development Assistance (ODA) package for Phase I of the North-South Commuter Rail (NCSR) project.

“The ODA package would be a boon to our ongoing efforts to improve and modernize our public transport system,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement.

The pledge is for the construction of a 36.7-kilometer narrow-gauge elevated commuter railway from Malolos, Bulacan to Tutuban in Manila.

“According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the pledge follows the commitment of the Japanese government in firming up its cooperation with the Philippines under the Philippine-Japan Cooperation Roadmap for Quality Infrastructure Development in the Transport Sector in Metropolitan Manila Area,” Secretary Coloma added.

This is one of the agreements signed during President Benigno S. Aquino III’s state visit to Japan last June 2 to 5.

“This ODA package is a firm testament to the robust bilateral relations between the Philippines and Japan and affirms the confidence and support of the Japanese government to the reforms undertaken by the Aquino administration,” Coloma said.

“Japan has been a valuable partner of the Philippine government in promoting lasting peace in Mindanao through the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiative for Reconstruction Development (J-BIRD II) project. The Aquino administration shall continue to work closely with Japan to advance initiatives on the areas of maritime security.”

The NSCR Project Phase I is said to be the single-biggest Official Development Assistance loan package Japan has given to any development partner to date. PND (ag)

Palace believes Vice President Binay’s tirades will not affect public perception of the administration
The Palace is confident that Vice President Jejomar Binay’s attacks on the administration will not affect the latter’s popularity in future surveys, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said on Thursday.

“Naniniwala kami na ang ating mga Boss ay makatuwiran. Naniniwala kami na ang kanilang papanigan ay ang katotohanan. Naniniwala kami na sila ay fair o patas sa kanilang pagpapasya,” Secretary Coloma said.

“Kaya ito ang aming pinaninindigan. Kaya’t sa lahat ng aming ginagawa at ipinapahayag, tumatalima kami sa mga prinsipyo ng katotohanan, katuwiran at katarungan,” he told reporters during a press briefing in Malacañang.

Vice President Binay, in his “True State of the Nation Address”, had alleged shortcomings of the administration.

Coloma said that to address the issues being raised by the Vice President, the administration should focus on its platform of good governance through its advocacy of “daang matuwid”.

The administration, he said, is countering the claims made by the Vice President with concrete data and evidence.

“Mayroong datos diyan, may kongkretong katibayan, pwedeng tunghayan ng lahat ng mamamayan at pagpasyahan kung ito ay katanggap-tanggap sa kanila,” he said. PND (as)