02 December 2015

President Aquino meets with officials of several European companies
(PARIS, France) President Aquino met on Tuesday officials of several European companies wanting to start operations or expand in the Philippines.

The President met the officials of CRH, the first and biggest Irish investment in the Philippines. They will be introducing their company, cement manufacturing operations and expansion plans in the Philippines, including their sustainability programs and activities.

CRH is one of the world’s leading building materials companies, with a business that spans 37 countries and which serves all segments of construction industry demand.

CRH subsidiary companies employ over 90,000 people at around 4,000 locations around the world.

The chief executive also also met officials of Jacobi Carbons Group AB, a Swedish company that has recently put up an activated carbon manufacturing facility in the Philippines.

The company greatly contributes to countryside development, especially in Mindanao, where Jacobi sources raw materials for their production from local coconut farmers.

The President also had separate meetings with the officials of Airbus, Sanofi Pasteur, and Usine IO, a product prototyping facility. PND (as)

President Aquino forges stronger tie up with Airbus
(PARIS, France) President Aquino met on Tuesday the officials of Airbus to discuss enhanced cooperation between the Philippines and the European airplane manufacturer.

Significant components for Airbus A350 are sourced from the Philippines such as actuator, galleys and toilets, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. who joined President Aquino during the meeting said.

The Philippine aviation industry is ramping up with new capacity and the country has now become a high potential source of components for plane manufacturing, he continued.

Airbus is the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and military airlifters, with a 40-plus year track record of innovation, technological firsts and industry milestones.

Airbus was established in July 1967 by France, Germany and Britain who agreed to strengthen European co-operation in the field of aviation technology to promote economic and technological progress in Europe.

They also agreed to take appropriate measures for the joint development and production of an airliner, which is the airbus.

During the 1969 Paris Air Show, the A300 is officially born in the form of a joint partnership between Europeans, establishing an airplane brand out of passion and commitment.

From the game-changing A300, Airbus continued its leadership to the 21st century with the creation of new-generation A380 and A350 XWB programs. PND (as)

BCDA, Vivapolis tie up to develop Clark Green City in Pampanga
(PARIS, France) The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) is tying up with a French organization specializing in sustainable urban development to develop the 9,450-hectare Clark Green City in Clark Field, Pampanga.

The BCDA is partnering with Vivapolis, an umbrella organization of public and private French stakeholders on urban development, through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed on Tuesday.

Under the MOU, the BCDA and Vivapolis will create a non-binding framework for future collaboration intended for sustainable urban development.

Both parties will work together to ensure the resilience of urban development by designing sustainable business models, establishing methods of governance, and improving Clark Green City’s local context to elevate the quality of life.

They also eye to establish possible strategic relationship to foster technical cooperation that encompasses the whole range of assistance to develop human resources by improving people’s skill level, knowledge and technical know-how.

The BCDA and Vivapolis agreed to cooperate on sustainable city planning, Eco-governance, infrastructure and utilities, clean technology, sustainable resource management, training and education, expert assistance from European mentors, sharing of regulatory and knowledge know-how, as well as tie ups on joint studies.

The two parties will also establish a technical cooperation committee to facilitate the implementation of cooperative activities under the MOU, which will have an effectivity of one year.

The committee will be composed of representatives to be designated by both parties and will meet according to agreed schedule.

The Clark Green City, a modern metropolis with a mixture of commercial, residential, agri-industrial as well as IT development, is a flagship project of the Philippine government.

Arnel Paciano Casanova, the president and CEO of BCDA, signed for the Philippine government and Michelle Pappalardo, senior adviser to the minister of foreign affairs and international development, signed for Vivapolis.

The signing ceremony, held at the Scribe Hotel here in Paris, was witnessed by President Aquino. PND (as)

President Aquino meets with officials of Sanofi Pasteur
(PARIS, France) President Aquino had a business meeting on Tuesday with officials of Sanofi Pasteur for the introduction of dengue vaccine in the Philippines as the French pharmaceutical company moves towards completing the clinical trials for the vaccine.

After over 20 years of research, Sanofi Pasteur’s dengue vaccine candidate became the first to complete the phase 3 (advanced, pre-product launch) clinical studies in 2014.

To test the efficacy of its dengue vaccine candidate, Sanofi launched 25 clinical studies (20 completed and 5 ongoing) involving over 40,000 subjects and these are being conducted in 15 dengue-endemic and non-endemic countries, including the Philippines.

In the Philippines, all three research phases were conducted, reflecting high level of research competence and capability.

For the possible introduction of the dengue vaccine in the Philippines, the Department of Health is formulating policies and guidelines in cooperation with the private sector.

Vaccine registration by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is underway and is expected to be completed soon.

President Aquino met the officials of Sanofi Pasteur in November last year during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in China.

They discussed Sanofi’s dengue vaccine, the Philippines development and deployment of ovicidal traps to dengue-prevalent areas and RxBox to poor areas.

They also tackled the administration’s initiatives and accomplishments in relation to transparency, accountability, and economic reforms. PND (as)

President Aquino visits French prototyping facility
(PARIS, France) President Aquino on Tuesday toured Usine IO, a membership-based workshop in Paris dedicated to hardware technologies and startup assistance.

The President visited the 1,500-square-meter facility in Paris, which serves as an innovation and hardware prototyping platform or launchpad for hardware products like furniture, healthcare, and robotics.

Although not a factory for mass production, Usine IO helps its members in conceptualizing and executing product prototyping and modeling as well as adopting new ideas.

The output will then be transmitted to manufacturers such as sheet-metal factories, electronic assemblers.

With a membership fee of EUR180 ($201) per month, its 300 members are composed of inventors, entrepreneurs, start-ups, companies, and research institutes.

Their membership gives them access to tools and equipment like 3D printers, cutting machines, and computer-aided design.

They could also avail of Usine’s technical services such as trainings, engineers’ expertise, and co-working spaces. Usine also provides consulting services for manufacturing and distribution.

Usine also gives additional assistance in the commercialization or marketing of outputs.

The French facility has an strategic value for the Philippines because it can share its best practices especially in delivering government services to small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Usine’s consultancy services and marketing assistance can serve as model for the Philippines in improving the services being offered to MSMEs through the DTI’s Shared Service Facilities (SSFs) and the Manufacturing Resurgence Program.

Usine IO was founded by Benjamin Carlu, Gary Cige, and Agathe Fourquet and was inaugurated in October 2014. PND (as)

President Aquino now in Italy, gets one step closer to meeting Pope Francis again
(ROME, Italy) President Benigno S. Aquino III arrived here Tuesday evening (Wednesday morning in Manila) to begin the Italian leg of his three-state European trip following a two-day working visit in Paris, France.

The Chief Executive and his official delegation took a nearly two-hour Philippine Airlines chartered flight to reach Italy, which hosts the largest Filipino community in the Eurozone area.

Highlighting President Aquino’s two-day working visit here are his bilateral meetings with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi scheduled on Wednesday.

The President’s discussions with his Italian counterparts will focus on strengthening bilateral ties in honor of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of Philippines-Italy diplomatic partnership on 2017.

On Thursday, President Aquino is set to meet with the members of the Filipino community at the Ergife Palace Hotel. Italy is home to some 171, 124 Filipino migrants who can be found mostly in the cities of Milan, Florence, Bologna, Turin, and Rome.

President Aquino’s trip to Italy, his first as head of state, helps sustain the exchanges of high-level visit between Manila and Rome, the last of which was held in June 2006 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Curiously, his mother, President Corazon Aquino, was the first Philippine head of state who visited Italy in April 1993. The Italian Republic was among the first countries that recognized the elder Aquino’s presidency following the 1986 EDSA Revolution.

Diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Italy began in July 9, 1947. In 2014, Italy was the 25th largest trading partner of the country with total approved investments of $178,667.

Meanwhile, on Friday, President Aquino will take a side trip to the Vatican City state, which is only about half an hour away from the Italian capital, to have a private audience with His Holiness Pope Francis at the Apostolic Palace.

The event is considered a ‘reciprocal visit’ by President Aquino on Pope Francis following the latter’s pastoral journey to the Philippines last January. They are expected to discuss some issues of mutual interest to each other like climate change.

President Aquino is also scheduled to have a meet-and-greet with His Eminence Pietro Parolin, the Cardinal Secretary of State, during his visit to the Holy See as well as witness the unveiling and blessing of the mosaic image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia.

The Vatican trip wraps up President Aquino’s six-day official working visit to Europe this week, and he is expected to be back in Manila by 1:15 p.m. (local time) on Saturday, December 5. PND (hdc)

Malacañang calls for sobriety, respect for law on Poe’s disqualification
The Palace has called for sobriety and respect for the law among all concerned parties following the decision of the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) Second Division to nullify the Certificate of Candidacy of presidential aspirant Grace Poe.“A decision was rendered by a division of the Comelec on the candidacy of Senator Grace Poe. This decision was arrived at in the course of the constitutionally-mandated functions of the Comelec,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during a press briefing in Malacañang on Wednesday.

“We understand that Senator Poe’s legal counsel will pursue and exhaust all remedies available to them, as is their right in this process. We believe that sobriety and respect for the law and its processes are the best way forward for all parties concerned,” the Palace official further said.

In a 34-page decision, the Comelec’s Second Division on Tuesday disqualified Poe for failing to meet the citizenship and residency requirements of a presidential bet.

The Comelec decision was based on the petition of Estrella Elamparo, who has accused Poe of committing material representation for claiming she is a natural-born Filipino citizen and a resident of the Philippines for 10 years before the May 2016 elections.

“The Comelec is an independent constitutional commission. So, they went through the process of confirmation. We will just urge everyone to respect the rule of law. There is a process. They have an opportunity to avail of the process, exhaust all remedies available to them,” Secretary Lacierda said.

Poe, who has been leading the presidential race surveys, said she will appeal before the Comelec en banc. PND (jm)

President Aquino signs measure protecting seafarers from ‘ambulance chasing’
President Benigno S. Aquino III has signed into law a measure protecting seafarers against ambulance chasing and penalizing individuals charging excessive fees with the promise of monetary award.Signed by the President last November 26, Republic Act 10706, also known as the Seafarers Protection Act, states that it is “unlawful for any person to engage in ambulance chasing or the act of soliciting, personally or through an agent, from seafarers or their heirs, the pursuit of any claim against their employers for the purpose of recovery of monetary claim or benefit, including legal interest, arising from accident, illness or death, in exchange of an amount or fee which shall be retained or deducted from the monetary claim or benefit granted to or awarded to the seafarers or their heirs”.

The new law declares that it shall be the policy of the State to promote and protect every Filipino seafarer who wants to work overseas by securing the best possible terms and conditions of employment.

“As some unscrupulous individuals have taken advantage of the plight of our seafarers who met an accident, illness or death in the course of their service by exploiting the compensation system, our seafarers have fallen prey to an unfair scheme where ambulance chasers charge exorbitant fees, with the promise of huge monetary award,” it states.

According to the new law, violators will be fined not less than P50,000 but not more than P100,000 and/or imprisonment of one to two years. The same penalties shall be imposed on any person who shall be in collusion in the commission of the prohibited activity.

Republic Act 10706 likewise states that fees collected by an individual who appears or represents seafarers in cases of recovery of monetary claim or benefit, including legal interest, arising from accident, illness or death, should not exceed 10 percent of the compensation or benefit awarded to the seafarer or his heirs.

Fees stated in the new law refer to the total amount of compensation of the person who appears for or represents the seafarer or his heirs for services rendered.

Section 6 also states that “within 90 days from the approval of the Act, the Secretary of Labor and Employment, in coordination with the Maritime Industry Authority and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, shall promulgate the necessary rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the provisions of this Act”. PND (jm)

President Aquino signs into law measure amending Probation Law
President Benigno S. Aquino III has signed into law an Act amending Presidential Decree No. 968, known as the Probation Law of 1976.Signed by the President last November 26, Republic Act No. 10707 provides that “when a judgment of conviction imposing a non-probationable penalty is appealed or reviewed, and such judgment is modified through the imposition of a probationable penalty, the defendant shall be allowed to apply for probation based on modified decision before such decision becomes final”.

The new law also states that the application for probation based on the modified decision shall be filed in the trial court where the judgment of conviction imposing a non-probationable penalty was rendered, or in the trial court where such case has since been re-raffled.

“In a case involving several defendants where some have taken further appeal, the other defendants may apply for probation by submitting a written application and attaching thereto a certified true copy of the judgment of conviction,” it adds.

The trial court shall, upon receipt of the application filed, suspend the execution of the sentence imposed in the judgment.

“This notwithstanding, the accused shall lose the benefit of probation should he seek a review of the modified decision which already imposes a probationable penalty,” the new law states.

“Probation may be granted whether the sentence imposes a term of imprisonment or a fine only. The filing of application shall be deemed a waiver of the right to appeal,” it adds.

The new law amends the benefit of probation by disqualifying only those who have previously been convicted by final judgment of an offense punished by imprisonment of more than six months and one day.

It also states that the final discharge of the probationer “shall operate to restore to him all civil rights lost or suspended as a result of his conviction and to totally extinguish his criminal liability as to the offense for which probation was granted”.

The new law also considers Regional, Provincial, and City Probation Officers as persons in authority to administer oaths and acknowledgements and to take depositions in connection with their duties and functions under this Decree.

Further, it allows the appointment of Volunteer Probation Assistants (VPAs) to assist the Chief Probation and Parole Officers; and provides that the VPAs will hold office for a two-year term, which may be renewed or recalled anytime for a just cause.

The new law is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 2280 and House Bill No. 4147 that was passed by the senators and lawmakers last September 15 and September 14, respectively. PND (co)