09 February 2017

Duterte vows social justice, equality for poor Filipinos
President Rodrigo Duterte has renewed his administration’s commitment to social justice especially for the poor and homeless.

Speaking to beneficiaries and workers at the National Housing Authority Summit on Wednesday, February 8, the President turned nostalgic and spoke about the social policies he undertook when he was mayor of  Davao City.

“Pare pareho lang tayo dito.”  Duterte said stressing his administration’s policy of social  equality.

“Kailangan maintindihan ang tao. When I was mayor it was my policy that there will be no demolition kung walang malipatan. Di naman mga aso yan,” he added.

The President likewise called on officials of the NHA to ensure that there will be no corruption in the agency under his term.

“So ito talaga ang inuna ko, ito ‘yun sila ang housing ng Davao si Jun. At si Jun nilagay. Sabi ko, ‘Jun, ilagay kita diyan. Kindly. Walang corruption ha’,” Duterte said referring to Cabinet Secretary Leoncio “Jun” Evasco, who is the chairman of Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC).
The NHA, headed by General Manager Marcelino Escalada, is under the supervision of HUDCC.  
“Although I know him to be not corrupt but I reminded him again. Sila Escalada,” Duterte added.
The Chief Executive said he will not spare anyone, not even his friends, when the welfare of the nation is on the line.
“Magkaibigan tayo I want you to coast along with me for five more plus, plus months at sabi ko, avoid corruption sa lahat ng — pati ‘yung Gabinete na. Magkaibigan tayo pero when it comes to the welfare of my nation, wala talagang areglo ’yan,” he said.
The President lamented the corruption issue in the housing project for victims of supertyphoon Yolanda in Tacloban.
“So I learned that there were only about 28 relocatees who were placed doon sa ano. Kaya sabi ko… last week of November sabi ko, “I’ll be back December. ‘Pag wala pa ‘yang mga tao naglipat diyan, maghanap kayo ng ibang trabaho. Pati sila,” Duterte said.
He also said that under his term, each department will only be given one month to process all papers.
“Ang mga director and I’m warning you, you only have 15 days,” he said.
“Ang sa local government, I have ordered them to obey ‘yung mga permit kailangan three days. Sa Davao three days lang eh,” he added.###PND

Duterte urges BOC to improve capabilities
President Rodrigo Duterte attended the 115th founding anniversary of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) as he urged its employees to improve operations to collect more revenues.

“Revenues give us the means to run government and provide crucial services to our people. As the money collected by the Bureau of Customs counts for a significant chunk of government earnings, we have to be relentless in our drive to maintain credible, efficient, and effective Customs Bureau,” the President said in his speech during the event held at the BOC compound in Manila on Wednesday, February 8.
BOC’s anniversary theme, “United Towards Transformational Change,” runs parallel with government’s program to institute real and lasting change in the bureaucracy and society, the President said, adding that it is also reflective of the changes taking place in the BOC today. 
As long as the people put their minds to the tasks at hand and remain committed to serve the Filipino people, they can achieve their goals, the President said.
“Thus, I urge the agency to continue to find ways to improve its operations; continue to simplify procedures; and centralize operations, particularly in the areas of trade facilitation and border control so that they can keep hitting and exceeding targets in the coming years,” he said.
Duterte said he expects the BOC to keep collaborating with its foreign counterparts by exchanging information and finding more avenues of cooperation.
As a frontline agency of government’s campaign against smuggling and illegal drugs, the President encouraged the BOC to beef up its enforcement operations.
“You have my full support in developing the BOC’s law enforcement capabilities. And so you can conduct these operations more effectively and efficiently,” he said.
Part of BOC’s efforts to improve operations and deter criminal and illegal activities is the installation of CCTV cameras in strategic locations, around the Port Area of Manila, and the BOC building.
The video footage could be viewed live stream online so the people can see the BOC operations in real time, the President said.
President Duterte said he is hopeful that the Bureau will no longer be tagged as among the most corrupt agencies in the future with the efforts of the BOC leadership and the private sector, and the Filipino people.
At the same time, the President said he hopes BOC personnel would help him cleanse the Bureau of erring employees.
“This is the only way to revitalize the Bureau of Customs and, therefore, our people’s trust in government,” he said.
The President also promised to increase the compensation of BOC personnel to motivate them to do their job well. He also expressed his gratitude to BOC for its contribution to government’s revenue collection.
Duterte said the country has been facing several major concerns such as illegal drugs, the communist threat and Islamic extremism.
 “There’s a war going on in the Central Mindanao. So that’s the bigger problem. I would need money to buy the equipment and the things that they would need to keep this country in order,” the President said.###PND

Palace hails opening of Laguna Lake Highway
The Palace on Thursday, February 9, welcomed the opening of the first phase of the Laguna Lake Highway, which could help commuters travel faster.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the opening of the Laguna Lake Highway Phase is good news to commuters since it would cut travel time in the area.

The first phase includes two additional lanes from Napindan to M.L. Quezon section in Taguig. Abella said it is now open to the public.

A 10.7-kilometer road network is expected to cut the travel time from Taytay to Bicutan by 50 percent. This means that about an hour’s travel time from Taytay to Bicutan will be further reduced to 30 minutes when the whole project is completed, Abella said.

Abella meanwhile said that P3.95 billion worth of Senior High School Vouchers has been granted by the Department of Education.The Senior High School students’ vouchers are now available to 607,208 program beneficiaries, the Palace official said.

Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez also joined Abella during Thursday’s press briefing. She highlighted DENR’s programs in addressing concerns in the mining industry and providing livelihood to the people who will be affected by destructive forms of mineral extraction.

Lopez said that she feels that economic growth would only be genuine if it brings social justice, and the people are free from poverty and suffering.

Genuine economic growth comes with area development, Lopez explained. Area development is taking a particular area, seeing its potential, and nurturing and developing its potential for the people of that community. It has three components: ecological, economic, and educational.“And what we want to do is give people access to the environment and, in that way, bring economic growth. This is our performance indicators: health, happiness, peace and order, so on and so forth,” Lopez said.

There are also plans for a convergence of different government agencies to develop Dinagat and Surigao, Lopez said, adding that she alone has P8 billion at her disposal.

“So if we use the government money well and with the power that government has, and we converge like if DOST, DTI, DSWD, we all converge there… Give me a year. There is no way we can’t make a difference,” she said.

Lopez also reiterated her firm stance against allowing extractive industries in the country’s watershed areas because it will kill the community life of the people.

She reported that the mining industry has generated P82.4 billion as of 2014 and 235,000 jobs, including quarrying.In the third quarter of 2016, the number of jobs is 219,000 including those in quarrying operations, Lopez said.

In contrast, the tourism industry has produced P982 billion in the same period and 4.7 million jobs.

The Philippines is the fifth most mineralized country on the planet, according to Lopez. It is the top nickel producer, the fifth biggest in nickel reserves, and fourth biggest in copper.

With regard to mines facing closures, Lopez said she has the right to close down their operations because of their violations.

If the mines disagree with her decision, they could lodge an appeal to the President, but their operations continue while it’s on appeal.

When the President decides on the closure order, it becomes final and their operations stop but they have an option to go to court, Lopez said.PND