17 Feb 2016

Malacanang condemns Cagayan ambush by NPA rebels
The Palace condemned the ambush of police personnel in Baggao, Cagayan vowing to go after the communist insurgents who carried out the attack.“We certainly condemn those people who perpetrated the attacks on our police. The leadership of the PNP has been informed of this and we will go after those who have perpetrated this dastardly act on our policemen,” Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing in Malacanang on Wednesday.

Asked if this will affect government’s resolve to talk peace with the NPA guerrillas, Lacierda said the administration remains committed to the peace process and the rebels are the ones making preconditions.

“We have not strayed from our advocacy of having peace with them. But having so many conditions have made it impossible for them. Demanding on the preconditions for a talk is certainly their problem, not ours,” he said.

Six policemen were killed and 10 others were injured when members of the NPA ambushed personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) – Regional Public Safety Battalion 2 (RPSB2) in Baggao, Cagayan Tuesday morning.

Reports from the field show that the attack took place around 10:00 a.m. at Km. 19 in Barangay Sta. Margarita, Baggao town, Cagayan.

The military said 63 members of the RPSB2 were on board a Forward Trooper vehicle when they were ambushed by approximately 40 heavily armed rebels.

The rebels also detonated land mines along the road, the military reported.

Two Bell 412 helicopters were also dispatched to provide aerial support to the policemen and at around 2:35 p.m., troops from the Army’s Division Reconnaissance Company (DRC) and 17IB were also deployed to reinforce the beleaguered personnel. PND (as)

Government has contingency measure for jobless OFWs as oil price drops, says Palace
The government said it is ready to absorb overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who will return home as oil-producing countries decided to freeze oil production to stabilize petroleum prices.Saudi Arabia and Russia, two major oil producers, agreed recently to cut production to normalize oil prices that fell massively in the past few months.

In a press briefing in Malacanang on Wednesday, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda acknowledged the concerns of OFWs who might be laid off as a result of the halt in production by major oil producers especially in the Middle East.

“Well, ngayon po sobrang baba po ng presyo ng petrolyo per barrel, so may concern po ang ating mga OFWs na ma-layoff sila,” Lacierda said during the press briefing.

“Siguro itong pagtigil ng—pag-freeze ng oil production is a way to stem the lowering of the price of petroleum. Whatever the case may be, the Philippines has been prepared for this.”

He said that Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz has already made proactive statements to make sure that OFWs will find assistance by way of looking for alternative markets and livelihood assistance in case they decide to come home.

“So we’re hoping that the situation abroad, the oil price situation will stabilize in a manner that will not exacerbate the anticipated situation of our OFWs being unemployed,” he said adding whatever the condition the government is ready to respond.

Economists said the government must attract more foreign investments to enable the country to create more jobs and ease the impact of the possible return of 2.3 million OFWs in the Middle East that may be affected by political turmoil and massive decline in petroleum prices.

The government said that while it was a boon to motorists, the continuing drop in oil prices was a cause for concern because further reductions could discourage investment in oil exploration and affect Filipino workers based in oil-producing countries. PND (as)

Palace hopes next President continue President Aquino’s policy on South China Sea
Malacanang said it hopes that the next president will continue the policies initiated by President Aquino with regards to the South China Sea to peacefully resolve the territorial dispute.In a press briefing in Malacanang on Wednesday, Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said that although the country is in transition as it holds election this year, the administration’s policy towards China will become the guiding principle in addressing the issue.

The country’s foreign policy of arbitration ensures that the community of nations rally behind the Philippines as the country supports moves not to exacerbate tensions in the South China Sea with the help of its ASEAN neighbors.

“The entire community of nations are behind us in this, in our advocacy that we should not—we should keep the South China Sea as peaceful as it should be, and therefore, I don’t see anyone with the exception of China disagreeing with our position,” Lacierda told reporters.

“And, therefore, even in spite of the fact that we are in a transition where we’ll have a new leader by the start of July, I think our foreign policy—I think the successor would continue the policies that we’ve started.”

President Aquino’s foreign policy is inclusive, according to Lacierda, as it acknowledges the need for cooperation between all the neighboring countries surrounding the South China Sea.

He noted that none of these countries disagree with the policy that has been laid down by President Aquino.

Asked if he thinks other the presidential candidates should be more emphatic or clearer on what their policy towards China will be, Lacierda said he’s not aware on the thoughts of other candidates.

But for the administration candidate former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Lacierda said the Liberal Party presidential bet has already made his position clear on the South China Sea issue. PND (as)