06 December 2016

Duterte calls for unity and peace this Christmas season
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte asked the nation to unite for peace and to support the administration’s fight against illegal drugs and corruption as he led the lighting of the Christmas tree at the Malacañan Palace grounds on Monday, December 5.

In his message, President Duterte said the government would work hard to fulfill his campaign promise of bringing lasting peace in the country, stamping out corruption and ending the illicit drugs trade.

“I plead for the unity of the country, that we shall be freed of the communal wars. I plead for the next generation that there will be Filipinos able, competent, healthy, and good,” said the President in a message addressed to the Filipino people.

“I plead for peace so that our citizens can move around anytime of the day or night. And I ask everybody in government that together we will stop corruption,” he added.

He stressed that law-abiding citizens in the country will be protected and he will not stop until he puts an end to the problem of illegal drugs.

“I will end up the drugs. My orders are destroy the apparatus that has really damaged the Republic of the Philippines,” he further said.

On the ongoing peace process, the President said the government peace panel led by Secretary Silvestre Bello III would be flying to Oslo, Norway on Tuesday for the resumption of peace talks.

Duterte expressed optimism about the ongoing peace talks saying that the government negotiating team “will not really abandon the things that we all crave for our country.”

Duterte said the government is also pursuing peace talks with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“So maligaya ako except for the extremists actually,” he said as he warned the Maute group would really be a danger to the country in the days to come citing what they did to the municipality of Butig in Lanao del Sur recently.

The President insisted that the last thing he would want to do is to wage war against the local terror group saying that “we cannot build a country over the bones of our fellow countrymen.”

He added that it is “disheartening” to see Filipinos killing each other noting that the administration would try to prospect for things that would end hostilities and restore peace and stability in the region.###PND

Government relocates more than 800 families in Eastern Visayas
The government has relocated more than 800 families in less than a month after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered providing Typhoon Yolanda-affected families decent homes, a Palace official said.

In a press briefing in Malacanan on Tuesday, Dec. 6 Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said that based on the report the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino, the government has successfully relocated 827 Yolanda families out of 911 that was ruffled to their new homes as of December 3, 2016.

This is done just 26 days after President Duterte issued an instruction to relocate the beneficiaries to their new homes.

“OPAV expects more families to be relocated to their new homes before Christmas as soon as other relocation sites are ready complete with electrical connection and potable water supply,” Abella said quoting Dino.

Also, Abella said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III presented last night, during the Cabinet meeting, the proposal to acquire Postbank and convert it into an OFW or a workers’ bank.

“And this particular move is an undertaking to show appreciation for the OFWs as our modern-day heroes,” he said.

Remittances account for 9.8 of gross domestic product and 8.3 of gross national income. Therefore, there’s a need now for a more specialized financial institution for OFWs to cater to their needs and aspirations, Abella added.

The Palace spokesman also mentioned the announcement of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar the construction of a pedestrian bridge directly connecting Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 with Newport City which is on track and due to open on the first half of 2017.

Once completed, the runway will allow the average person to walk the distance between the airport and Newport City in approximately three minutes. It will be an enclosed air-conditioned bridge with PWD-friendly facilities such as moving walkways and elevators.

Also during the same press briefing, Abella mentioned Coca-Cola Philippines’s plans to invest $1 billion more in the Philippines in the next few years.

The plan comes on the back of the $1.4 billion that Coca-Cola has already invested in the country between 2010 and 2014, he said.

The efforts include adding two new bottling lines to its Misamis Oriental plant, the rebuilding of its Tacloban plant, and the purchase of a manufacturing facility in Davao del Sur from San Miguel Corp., which speaks of a positive outlook in terms of economics in the Philippines.

On social welfare, Abella mentioned the President’s pledge to give half of the Php 5 billion he received from PAGCOR to DSWD and to Department of Health, intended to fund medical needs of poor Filipinos.

“It’s the President’s intention, it’s of improving the wellbeing of the nation and this is actually part of, in a sense, an expression of his campaign promises,” Abella said.###PND

New US envoy sees expansion of US-PH ties
Newly designated United States (US) Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said he expects an expansion of bilateral relations between the US and the Philippines as he assumes his post.“Over the weeks, months and years ahead, I look forward to working closely with the Philippines’ government and Filipino people to expand our relationship and to engage in many areas of mutual interest,” Kim told reporters at a press briefing in Malacañan after presenting his credentials to President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, December 6.

Describing his first encounter with President Duterte, Kim said he had a “lengthy and substantive” discussion with the Filipino leader.

“I am very pleased to have presented my credentials to President Duterte just now… And I am grateful for the time that President Duterte afforded me today,” he said.

“It is an incredible honor for me to be in the Philippines to have this opportunity to contribute to one of America’s most enduring partnerships,” he added.

In addition to the close friendship and strong alliance between the US and the Philippines, Kim said the two countries have strong economic ties that are long-standing and extensive and these open up a great potential in growing their two-way economic partnership.

“At the heart of that partnership is the deep bond between the peoples of our two countries. There is indeed tremendous ‘kalooban’, the extraordinary spirit, warmth and strength in our relationship,” he further said.

Kim said he is confident that mutual respect combined with close ties and shared history and values of the two countries will ensure stability in relationship over the long term.

He, meanwhile, expressed eagerness to get to know the Filipino people and to visit tourist destinations in the country such as Batanes and Tawi-Tawi.

Kim is familiar with Asia, having served as a career member of the senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, a special representative for North Korea policy, and Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs at the US Department of State.

He also served as US Ambassador to Korea, political officer at the US Embassy in Tokyo, Japan; political officer in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, vice-consul of US Consulate in Hong Kong, among others.

The US envoy earned a doctorate in law from Loyola University Law School in Los Angeles and a Masters of Law from the London School of Economics.

Born in Korea in 1960, Kim moved to the US when he was 13 years old and became an American citizen in 1980.

Aside from Kim, other ambassadors who presented their credentials to the President were Dato Raszlan Abdul Rashid of Malaysia, Harald Fries of Sweden, Dr. Jozsef Bence of Hungary, John Holmes of Canada, Musaed Saleh Althwaikh of Kuwait, Gordon Kricke of Germany, Hamad Saeed Hamad Obaid Alzaabi of UAE and Johariah Wahab of Brunei.###PND