06 Feb 2016

Malacañang welcomes the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s commitment to peace
The Palace welcomed the statement of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal assuring the United Nations that the separatist group remains committed to peace despite the non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Iqbal said the MILF will continue to engage in peace initiatives despite the security challenges on the ground.

“We welcome this statement and this reassurance from Chairman Iqbal,” Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office said in a radio interview on Saturday.

“As you know, the agreement still stands that was signed in Malacañang between the MILF and the administration, and that this remains the cornerstone for working forward.”

Quezon said that while Congress was unable to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law as the administration had hoped, the public must remember that the commitment on the part of the government persists.

He told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan that he believes all sides are committed to ensuring that the progress made by both sides this far remains and becomes a durable foundation for the future.

On the issue of possible restlessness on the ground after Congress failed to pass the BBL, Quezon said it is speculative at this time that violence will spark.

“At this point, I believe it is speculative and premature and a cause for undue alarm to speculate on this,” he stressed. “What we have is a framework agreement that exists and to which the government is committed.”

“I believe that we have seen that in terms of the partners such as the MILF that they are doing their part to maintain their adherence to this and their commitment to this framework agreement.”

There will be a brief wait until a new Congress would be elected and could then return to the work on deliberating on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, he said.

Congress adjourned this week without passing key legislations such as the increase in pay of government workers, the Freedom of Information Bill and the BBL. PND (as)

DFA already working to repatriate remains of Filipinos killed in Iraq hotel fire, says Malacañang
Malacanang said it is saddened by the deaths of 14 Filipinos in a hotel fire in Iraq’s Kurdistan region saying it is working with Iraqi authorities to bring home the remains of those killed in the tragedy.

In a radio interview on Saturday, Undersecretary Manuel Quezon of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office said they received an update from the Department of Foreign Affairs saying it already dispatched personnel, through the help of the United Nations, to go to the site and assess what government help could be extended.

“We are very sad about this. It’s a terrible way to die. Marami sila and it was, I believe, in a massage center,” Quezon said over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

“And so we would like to, of course, get more details and do everything that is possible to bring our countrymen home and, of course, to look at every possibility to assist their families at this time of sadness and need.”

Asked for more details of the repatriation, he said the families should wait for a while because the DFA has just dispatched the people who will facilitate the repatriation.

“Kailangan tayong maghintay ng additional na detalye mula sa DFA dahil papunta pa lang si Elmer Cato para tingnan ang ginagawa natin para doon,” he said.

A fire at a hotel in the capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region killed 19 people, 14 of them were Filipinos according to Iraqi officials.

Other fatalities include three Iraqis, a Palestinian and another person of unknown nationality, according to the director general of the Arbil health department.

Dozens more were injured and taken to hospital in Arbil, the officials said.

Meanwhile, Quezon said they are still waiting for reports on Filipinos who may be affected by an earthquake in Taiwan, which killed several people.

The CNN reported on Saturday that at least five people were killed when a magnitude-6.4 earthquake hit Taiwan.

Quoting the Taiwanese Disaster Response Center, CNN said more than 200 people were rescued from damaged structures, many from a 17-story residential building that collapsed in Tainan.Two bodies were also recovered from the building, officials said. PND (as)

Malacañang official tells public to scrutinize candidates running for government positions
A Palace official advised the public to watch debates, read newspapers and other information materials to know the personalities of those running for public office as the official campaign season starts next week.

The official campaign season starts February 9.

“Siguro po sa pagsimula ng kampanya ang mahalaga ay para sa botante. Ang botante ang mamimili dahil pagdating sa panahon ng kampanya ‘yan ang panahon ng pagsusuri, pag-aaral, pagdedebate at pagtatalakay ng mga isyu na hinaharap ng ating bayan at ng ating lipunan,” Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III said when asked to comment on the start of the campaign period.

“Siguro ang masasabi natin ay dapat tangkilikin natin ang lahat ng mga debate at ang mga programa sa radyo, telebisyon, basahin ang mga peryodiko upang malaman natin ang mga plataporma, paninindigan at katauhan ng ating mga kandidato,” he told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan in an interview.

The Palace official also made an assurance that the administration will use government resources appropriately especially as the President campaigns for administration bets.

President will lead the campaign kick-off of the Liberal Party on February 9 in the Visayas next week.

He vowed to campaign vigorously for Liberal Party bets whom he said will continue his “Daang Matuwid” agenda.

Asked to comment on the use of government money during the campaign, Quezon said: “I think we should be very aware of one thing na hindi naman ito parang chaleco or hat na pwede mong tanggalin tapos suotin, tapos tanggalin-suotin. The President is the president wherever he goes and whatever he does.”

The President is cautious on spending government money and will not waste resources on things that are not of public interest, Quezon said.

“In other words, you can be sure that public funds are not going to be used for partisan or political purposes of the party,” he noted.

“May sariling pondo ang partido, ang koalisyon ay mayroon sariling logistics, and the President will only use what is required for his position.” PND (as)