25 August 2015

Palace defends appearance of Cabinet officials in television ads
The Palace on Tuesday defended the appearance of Cabinet secretaries and government officials in television advertisements, saying this is part of their job as pubic officials.

“Sila po ay gumaganap ng tungkulin nila bilang mga opisyal ng gobyerno,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a press briefing in Malacañang.

Secretary Coloma noted that these government officials are informing the public of the services being offered by their respective offices.

“Ang ginagampanan nila ay public education, public information; nagpapaliwanag sila tungkol sa benepisyo at serbisyo ng PhilHealth; at ang ginagamit nila ay pondo ng PhilHealth; at lahat ng ito ay naaayon sa batas,” he added.

Among the government officials seen in television ads are Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, Health Secretary Janette Garin, Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Director General Joel Villanueva, and Philippine Health Insurance Corp. board member Risa Hontiveros. PND (ag)

Government launches second Peace Caravan to help poor, underprivileged communities
The government launched this week the second Peace Caravan aimed at delivering basic services to geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas in the country, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. announced on Tuesday.Jointly organized by the Local Government Units (LGUs) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), the caravan, composed of a high-level team that includes Cabinet secretaries, travelled on Monday and Tuesday (August 24 to 25) to Andap Valley, Surigao del Sur province, Secretary Coloma said in a statement.

“The Peace Caravan is part of the government’s inclusive growth agenda; it ensures that communities that are prone to exploitation by lawless elements and have thus been relegated to the margins due to intermittent conflict will gain access to the services that they deserve as Filipino citizens,” he said.

“Alongside presenting the menu of available government programs and services, the caravan will also be a venue for consultation between the community and the government on various issues,” Coloma added.

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles and Agrarian Reform Secretary Gil de los Reyes are part of the caravan, along with undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, directors, and staff of various agencies, among them the Cabinet Cluster on Security, Justice and Peace, and the Office of the Political Adviser.

Also included in the caravan are officials of the Department of Interior and Local Government, Mindanao Coordinating Office, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Commission on Human Rights, the Deputy Executive Secretary for General Administration, Department of Public Works and Highways, and Department of Education. PND (as)

Palace counters Senator Binay on balikbayan box issue
The Palace on Tuesday brushed off a senator’s allegation that it was behind the policy on the random inspection of balikbayan boxes that has recently angered overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), saying the accusation has no concrete basis. “Walang katotohanan at walang batayan ang paratang na ‘yan. Batid natin na nagpahayag si Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina ng obserbasyon na pinagsasamantalahan ng ilang sektor ang paggamit ng mga balikbayan box,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said of Senator Nancy Binay’s claim that Malacañang gave the directive to the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and that it has long been targeting OFWs.

In a media briefing at the Palace, Secretary Coloma noted that the BOC policy is aimed not at OFWs but at individuals who use the balikbayan boxes to smuggle contraband into the country.

Coloma also dismissed the accusation that Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda has said that OFW remittances have not contributed to the Philippine economy.

“Hindi po totoo ‘yan. Wala rin pong katotohanan at walang batayan ‘yan. Ang basis ng pinag-uusapan na ‘yan ay ‘nung nagdeklara ng ‘No Remittance Day’,” he said, explaining that what Secretary Lacierda said during an interview back in 2013 was that it is the right of every OFW to send his or her remittance in whatever means he or she wants.

“Ang sinabi lang ni Secretary Lacierda ay ito: ‘Karapatan ng bawat OFW ‘yung pagpapasya kung paano niya ipadadala ‘yung kinita niya.’ ‘Yon ang sinabi ni Secretary Lacierda, dahil ang tinutukoy na isyu ‘non ay ‘yung ‘no remittance’. So, klaro po, walang katotohanan at walang batayan ang paratang na ‘yan,” Coloma pointed out.

He said the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas itself recognizes the huge contributions of OFWs to the economy, keeping it afloat despite economic uncertainties abroad.

“At malaking sakripisyo po ang kanilang ginagawa, kaya kinikilala po natin ito sa kabuuan,” Coloma added. PND (as)

Strong macroeconomic fundamentals are keeping the economy afloat, says Palace official
Despite the record drop in the stock market and the weakening peso, the Philippine economy remains stable, owing to its strong macroeconomic fundamentals, a Palace official said on Tuesday.“The country’s strong macroeconomic fundamentals and market-driven framework buoy the nation. Moreover, the market maximized the Philippines’ sound economic environment and deep-seated improvements in the last five years, which is now protecting the economy from external shocks,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said, quoting a statement issued by the Department of Finance.

During the daily press briefing in Malacañang, Secretary Coloma noted that external shocks are affecting the economy and the country must focus on the strength of its macroeconomic fundamentals.

“May sufficient cash ang ating economy. Hindi tayo nangungutang ng napakalaking halaga. Ang interest rate na ipinapataw sa ating mga short-term borrowings ay mababa, kaya advantageous pa rin para sa atin,” he explained.

He said the Philippine economy has enough financial strength and resiliency to cushion the impact of economic uncertainties abroad.

Coloma further quoted Central Bank Governor Amando Tetangco as saying that the “Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas shall carefully provide liquidity to the market should the exchange rate volatilities become excessive.”

“At sinabi niya (Tetangco) na, sa kanilang pananaw, there is no need for aggressive intervention,” he added.

The Philippine stock market plummeted 6.7 percent on Monday, after China’s stock market took an almost 9 percent dive on the same day.

According to reports, this is the 11th biggest recorded drop for the Philippine Stock Exchange Index. PND (as/ag)