22 August 2015

APEC News Release

President Aquino wants government assets prepositioned for ‘Typhoon Ineng’
President Benigno S. Aquino III instructed government agencies to preposition their assets so they could immediately respond to weather disturbances like Typhoon Ineng that hit Northern Luzon this week, a Palace official said.

“Ang instructions ng Pangulo doon sa mga frontline agencies natin ay siguraduhing nakahanda ang mga assets natin, naka-preposition ang mga ito para makatulong doon sa mga lokal na pamahalaang maaapektuhan nitong bagyong ‘Ineng,’” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview on Saturday.

Valte told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan that when the President knew that more localities were included in public storm warning signals, he made some calls to ensure that government assets are ready to be dispatched.

Aside from relief goods, the government also prepositions heavy equipment from the Department of Public Works and Highways and medicines from the Department of Health, Valte said.

The government has been doing this to immediately mobilize assets and equipment during times of calamities, she said.

With regards to calls for additional budget for the Department of Agriculture in preparation for the onslaught of El Niño in the last quarter of 2015 until the first quarter of 2016, Valte said agencies can tap both contingency and calamity funds.

“Kahit po ‘yung mga quick response funds nila available po kung sakaling kailanganin ng mga ahensya natin,” she said.

Valte also said the same item is also present in the 2016 NEP (National Expenditure Program) that government proposed.

“So these are precisely the incidents, or at least instances, where government puts away or proposes budget to Congress para ma-address natin nang mabilis ang mga ganitong sitwasyon,” she said. PND (as)

President Aquino asking for clarification on bail issue granted Juan Ponce Enrile
President Aquino wants the Supreme Court to clarify the parameters of Senator Juan Ponce Enrile’s bail issue because it has been granted on new grounds, a Palace official said on Saturday.

“I think for the President it has to be clarified kung paano ba ‘yung galaw ng bail na ‘yan,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview.

Valte told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan that the President wanted to clarify everything about the SC’s decision to free Enrile on bail.

“Marami hong kailangan pang klaruhin. At the very least, ang utos ng Pangulo diyan ay aralin ang desisyon at tingnan kung ano ang susunod na hakbang,” she told Radyo ng Bayan.

Valte said the decision of SC on Enrile’s case becomes part of its doctrine that all lawyers can use in their pleadings in the future and this needs clarification.

“My understanding of it is that this doctrine should apply to everyone unless the Supreme Court itself limits its application,”

The palace official cited the case of former First Lady Imelda Marcos at the time she wanted to return to the Philippines noting that the Supreme Court made a decision then that its decision should only apply to Marcos’ case.

The SC limited its decision for the case of Marcos only and this is called sui generis, meaning unique or one in its own class, Valte explained.

But in the fixing of the bail in the Enrile case, the SC hasn’t laid out such limitation, she said.

Asked if the executive branch will file a motion for reconsideration, she said there are other legal remedies that the government could use, but the Palace will leave it up to the prosecutors to determine what the next step is.

The SC granted Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s plea to post bail in connection with his plunder trial stemming from his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.

Enrile argued that the evidence linking him to the pork barrel scam is weak, and that he is not a flight risk.

He also pointed out two mitigating circumstances: advanced age and his voluntary surrender, which, under the law, puts the prescribed penalty for plunder at reclusion temporal (12 years and 1 day to 20 years), not reclusion perpetua (20-40 years). PND (as)

New BOC rules on balikbayan boxes, not meant to target OFWs, says Palace
The Palace said the Bureau of Customs is not singling out overseas Filipino workers with its tighter rules on balikbayan boxes and it is serious in going after smugglers.

OFWs complained about a new BOC rule on balikbayan boxes saying the government should focus its attention on going after big smugglers.

“Unang-una, hindi naman sa ‘napag-iinitan’ sila. Ang hinahabol ng Bureau of Customs ay ang mga malalaking smuggler,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview Saturday.

Valte told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan that the BOC implemented new rules because there have been some concerns when it comes to balikbayan boxes being sent by OFWs.

There are instances where smugglers used balikbayan boxes as a way to ship unauthorized goods and then reassemble them here.

“Yun lang din ang gustong matigil ng Bureau of Customs … nagagamit ang mga balikbayan boxes,” she said.

“Hindi po tina-target ang ating mga OFWs and ang atas lang naman sa BOC ay siguraduhing malinis at mabilis ang proseso,” she said.

The process will not cause any hold up in the release of the balikbayan boxes and that the property inside should be respected as well, she noted.

BOC has to be very conscious about handling balikbayan boxes because it’s a show of respect to the owners who legally sent items through the balikbayan boxes.

She also advised OFWs to send feedback to the BOC it they have concerns in sending balikbayan boxes to their families in the country. PND (as)

South Korea emergency protocol to be carried out if tension worsens in the Peninsula, says Malacanang
The Palace said it continues to call for the deescalation of tension in the Korean peninsula to prevent any incident that may threaten regional stability, a Palace official said on Saturday.

“We continue to call for restraint on both sides to prevent any undue incident that can quickly escalate,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail said in a radio interview.

As to the response of the government in case there is a need to evacuate Filipino citizens from South Korea, Valte told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan that there is a ready and active protocol that the government can carry out.

The government has plans in place back in 2011, early on in President Aquino’s term, when there was also a similar exchange of fires between the two Koreas.

“And na-activate naman natin agad ang ating evacuation protocols for our OFWs. Thankfully at that time, it did not need to be executed. It served as a practice also on our part,” she said.

“Kumbaga, talagang nakita natin ang weaknesses at nagawan natin ng paraan at in place na ito. It is just a matter of activating the protocol.”

The Philippines has a big population in South Korea, and the country’s embassy led by Ambassador Raul Hernandez is already on alert and is keeping their ears on the ground to see what the developments are.

Among the Filipino professionals present in South Korea include teachers, professors, as well as religious groups, Valte said noting that these Filipinos are very active and in touch with the Philippine embassy.

“I have seen their good coordination. So our first advice to them would be to follow the information that is disseminated to you by the embassy and to strictly adhere to these reminders because these reminders are also for our safety,” Valte said.

Both Koreas have exchanged fire near the border after two South Korean soldiers were injured by landmines allegedly planted by North Korean soldiers. The North Koreans denied the allegations. PND (as)

Cebu provincial government launches Cebu Guide app for APEC delegates
The Cebu provincial government, in partnership with Smart communications, has released the updated travel application Cebu Guide, to give the delegates of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in Cebu a handy guide to the top attractions of the province.

Made available by InnoPub Media and mobile leader Smart Communications (Smart) in partnership with the Cebu provincial government, the mobile app can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store for Android devices and Apple App Store for iOS. The app can also be downloaded from apps.myguide.ph/cebu/.

The guide lists island attractions – from heritage structures like ancient houses and centuries-old stone churches to white sand beaches and island-hopping destinations, a wide range of land and water activities, the best accommodations, food to try, and important contact numbers.

Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III said the Cebu provincial government is working to make APEC 2015 meetings a success.

He said one of the initiatives is tapping existing partnerships like the Digital Tourism program with SMART and InnoPub.

“By providing delegates with information through the Cebu Guide app, we make their visits meaningful. By using the platform for announcements, we are also helping Cebuanos get the latest updates on APEC activities,” Davide said.

The app directory also provides a complete listing of Department of Tourism-accredited tour guides, tour operators, transport services as well as consular offices and emergency contacts like police and hospitals.

Tourist attractions, hotels and other locations featured in the app have GPS data and users need only to tap the “check location” link to be guided on how to get to a place.

Contact details are also active and users need only to tap on phone numbers to call a guide, tour operator, police station or any person or organization listed on the app.

Smart Communications said it is happy to support the Cebu provincial government in promoting what the province can offer to the APEC delegates.

A comprehensive and handy guide to Cebu, the Cebu Guide can help the delegates maximize their stay in the country, it said noting this is aligned with the company’s digital tourism program which aims to enhance the delivery of tourism information through the use of mobile and digital technologies.

A chapter of the travel guide will carry important Cebu updates, such as developments pertaining to the anticipated APEC meetings scheduled from August to October. The locally-relevant APEC updates will be provided by the Cebu Provincial Government.

The mobile app has a notification function that allows users to immediately receive information on such things as traffic changes like rerouting and road closures for the duration of the APEC 2015 meetings in Cebu.

The app is released as part of the nationwide Digital Tourism program by SMART and InnoPub Media in collaboration with local government units and private organizations. The program started in Cebu and is now in Iloilo, Baguio, Albay and Bohol and is set for expansion in key tourism areas in the country.

The APEC 2015 Third Senior Officials’ Meeting and Related Meetings (SOM 3) will be held in Cebu starting Aug. 22 to Sept. 6. PND (as)