19 February 2015


President Aquino meets with families of PNP-SAF 44, checks status of assistance being given
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Wednesday evening met anew with the families of 42 of the 44 troopers of the police’s Special Action Force (SAF) killed last month in an encounter with Moro rebels, to fulfill the government’s commitment to provide them assistance.

President Aquino, accompanied by some members of his Cabinet, spent time to talk to each of the bereaved families of the fallen commandos at the Multipurpose Center of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Relatives of the slain SAF members on Wednesday gathered at the PNP headquarters for the event dubbed as “PNP Welfare Services for the Beneficiaries of SAF 44.”

To ensure that the government is meeting its commitments, President Aquino personally checked the status of the assistance being provided by the concerned agencies to the bereaved families.

During the meeting, each family also had the chance to raise to the President other concerns.

The assistance being given to the relatives of the slain SAF troopers includes employment, education, housing, health, and livelihood, apart from the monetary assistance from the President’s Social Fund.

President Aquino arrived at the PNP headquarters before 6 p.m. and spent six hours speaking to the bereaved families. The Chief Executive left Camp Crame at 12 midnight.

Cabinet officials present to assist the families were Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, and National Housing Authority General Manager Chito Cruz.

Also in attendance were Acting Health Secretary Janette Garin, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, Commission on Higher Education Chairperson Patricia Licuanan, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Presidential Management Staff head Julia Abad, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority chief Joel Villanueva.

Some 44 members of the SAF elite force deployed to serve warrants of arrest to terrorist suspects, Abdulbasit Usman and Zulkifli Bin Hir, alias Abu Marwan, perished in a tragic encounter with Moro rebels in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao province on January 25.

In a televised address to the nation on January 28, President Aquino assured the families of the troopers that the government would provide them the maximum assistance it could, within the limits of the law.

President Aquino and the relatives of the fallen policemen had their initial meeting on January 30 at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. During the said meeting, the families shared with the President their requests for assistance. PND (co)

Overcoming hurdles caused by Mamasapano incident would make country stronger, says Palace official
Malacañang said it believes that once the truth regarding the bloody Mamasapano clash is brought to light, the country’s wounds would start to heal, and that overcoming the challenges created by the tragedy would make the country stronger.

In a telephone interview on Thursday, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. was asked to comment on the mounting calls from different sectors for the resignation of President Benigno S. Aquino III.

Coloma explained that in a healthy democracy, it is normal for people to have varying opinions on the incident and the government does not have the monopoly of opinions regarding the issue.

He said the anger being vented on the government as a result of the incident as well as the people’s lack of patience are understandable.

“Pero nananalig naman tayo na kapag naisiwalat na ang buong katotohanan at kapag nabatid na ng buong bansa kung ano talaga ang nangyari at naunawaan na kung paano naganap ang mga naganap doon, ay magkakaroon naman ng healing process,” he said.

“Mauunawaan natin at magkakaroon din tayo ng determinasyon na magbagong-tatag at isulong ang ating bansa sa harap nitong mga hamong ito, dahil lahat naman ng bansa ay humaharap sa mga kahalintulad na hamon.”

How the Philippines would overcome these challenges at this very difficult juncture will be a litmus test for the country’s strength as a nation, he said.

Asked if the President would give inputs in the ongoing inquiry on the Mamasapano incident, Coloma said the President, in his previous speeches, had assured that he is after the truth.

Once the truth is uncovered, the country could move on to serving justice to the families of the slain police commandos, he said.

Coloma further said that the surrender of the firearms seized from the dead policemen is a sign of goodwill on the part of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front but a lot of things remain to be done to restore confidence in the MILF.

President Aquino has said that the MILF must not hamper government operations to capture Abdul Basit Usman, one of the targets of the January 25 police raid in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

The President also wants the MILF to assist the government in the identification and prosecution of individuals involved in the clash and the return of all the personal belongings taken from the slain commandos.

The encounter in Mamasapano left 44 members of the police’s Special Action Force dead, raising fears that the incident would derail the ongoing peace process between the government and the MILF. PND (as)

Palace on MRT breakdowns: Public safety always comes first
Amid frequent breakdowns of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3), the Palace said on Thursday that public safety must always come first.

“Sa lahat ng pagkakataon ay hindi dapat isakripisyo ang kaligtasan ng mga mamamayan kahit na magkaroon ng service interruption. Dapat ang pangunahing konsiderasyon ay ang safety ng mga pasahero,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a telephone interview.

Passengers of the MRT-3 experienced yet another glitch in the system early Wednesday morning, after three persons were injured when a glitch occurred last Tuesday.

Coloma reassured the public that the Department of Transportation and Communications has plans to improve the MRT’s service.

He also asked for the understanding of the public while the government works on the matter.

“Habang hindi pa nga matutupad and lahat ng ‘yan at sa Setyembre pa dadating ang mga karagdagang bagon o new train sets, hinihingi natin ang pag-unawa ng ating mga mamamayan. Nauunawaan natin ang kanilang pinagdadaanang mga sakripisyo,” said Coloma. PND (ag)

APEC delegates to meet in Tagaytay City to discuss financial inclusion
Officials and stakeholders gathering in the Philippines for the country’s hosting of this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum will meet in Tagaytay City on March 3 and 4 to discuss financial inclusion.

The APEC delegates will meet during the Asia-Pacific Forum on Financial Inclusion, to be hosted by the Department of Finance.

The event is being organized by the APEC Business Advisory Council, and the Foundation for Development Cooperation, in partnership with Citi Foundation and in collaboration with GE Capital, the International Finance Corp. (IFC), the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the Policy and Economic Research Council (PERC).

The APEC Advisory Group for Financial Systems Capacity Building has been convening the Asia-Pacific Forum on Financial Inclusion since 2010 to provide policymakers and regulators with priority recommendations in relation to financial inclusion.

The advisory group is currently reviewing these policy recommendations to assess the extent to which they have been adopted by APEC economies, and identify what challenges remain for their implementation.

During the same forum last year, several APEC economies were examined, among them China, the Philippines, Peru, India, Thailand, and Indonesia.

The discussions in Tagaytay will also examine financial inclusion in Mexico, Vietnam and Papua New Guinea, and tackle digital financing, credit information systems, and ways to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) gain access to financing.

The APEC meetings in Tagaytay and in other parts of the country are a run-up to the APEC Leaders’ Meeting in November, to be attended by leaders of the grouping’s 21 member economies. PND (as)

Public-Private Partnership, infrastructure to be discussed during APEC meeting in Tagaytay
Experts and finance officials will meet in Tagaytay City on March 4 to 6 to discuss the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program as well as infrastructure, as part of this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, which is being hosted by the Philippines.

When the 4th APEC PPP Experts Advisory Panel Meeting opens on March 4, participants will get a report from the APEC Secretariat and Indonesia regarding the discussions made and decisions taken during the panel’s third meeting, as well as updates on the works undertaken by Indonesia or the panel.

Indonesia will also give an update on its PPP unit and its various PPP projects, as well as the challenges the country faces.

The Philippines will also give inputs during the discussion, presenting its own PPP programs and the work of the Philippine PPP Center and PPP projects that are in the pipeline.

After the discussions on PPPs, officials will gather for the APEC Finance and Central Bank Deputies’ Meeting (FCBDM) to tackle the current economic outlook and financial condition in the region, and the Cebu Action Plan, as well as how to promote financial integration, advance fiscal transparency, enhance financial resiliency, and support infrastructure development and financing.

The Tagaytay meeting is a build-up to the APEC Leaders’ Meeting in November.Since its formation in November 1989, the APEC has become the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region.

The APEC groups 21 member economies: Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Canada; Chile; People’s Republic of China; Hong Kong, China; Indonesia; Japan; Republic of Korea; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Papua New Guinea; Peru; The Philippines; The Russian Federation; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; The United States of America; and Viet Nam.

This year’s meetings carry the theme, “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World.” PND (as)