03 January 2015
Government to continue strengthening frontline agencies to effectively respond to disasters, says Palace
The Palace said it will continue to invest in strengthening frontline agencies of the government to effectively respond to disasters and calamities.

Among the government’s major agencies dealing with disasters and forecasting are the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration and the Department of Science and Technology.

In a radio interview over dzRB Radyo Ng Bayan on Saturday, Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said among the major thrusts of the government is increasing the yearly budget of these agencies.

In the case of PAGASA, the government has upgraded the agency’s equipment, according to Valte.

PAGASA, which had issues in the past, has received attention from the government. The DOST, PAGASA’s mother agency, has tried to resolve issues on the allowances of its personnel with the help of the Department of Budget and Management.

“‘Sa mga naging solusyon natin dito pinapakita ang willingness sa part ng administrasyon na umupo at makipag-usap sa ating mga kasamahan para makahanap ng magandang solusyon,” Valte said.

“We continue to invest in mechanisms that will help them make better tracks or make better predictions.”

DOST’s Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards or Project NOAH has been expanded, Valte said adding that efforts to complete hazard mapping will continue.

The government not only focuses on PAGASA, Valte said, the administration is also improving the capability of responders and rescuers to effectively respond to disasters.

“We continue to invest in the capacity for them to be able to do more,” she said.

The government has also augmented PAGASA’s budget from P396.5 million in 2014 to P3.46 billion for 2015, an increase of 526.5 percent.

The large chunk of PAGASA’s 2015 allocation is intended for the purchase of state-of-the-art weather monitoring equipment, Valte explained.

The new budget will also go to personnel services of PAGASA. In 2014, PAGASA had an allocation of P352 million for personnel services, and in 2015 PAGASA got P434.4 million for personnel services, a 23.4 percent increase.

The country’s weather bureau as well as other government front line agencies was once again in close scrutiny after several major typhoons hit the Philippines in 2014.

Among these weather disturbances were Typhoon Ruby that devastated Eastern Visayas as well as the more recent Typhoon Seniang that brought massive flooding and landslides in Mindanao and the Visayas regions. PND (as)

Malacanang sees continuing gains in remaining days of Aquino administration
The Palace sees the achievements in the year 2014 to continue in the remaining days of the Aquino administration saying last year was a good year for the Philippines despite the challenges.

“Kahit marami po tayong mga challenges at mga obstacles na hinarap, we still feel that 2014 was a good year for our country,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview over dzRB Radyo Ng Bayan on Saturday.

For those in the administration serving the President, Valte said that with less than 540 days to go before the President’s term ends, they do not see the year 2014 as an ending but rather a period for continuing to do more.

“To do as many things as possible in the remainder of the President’s term,” Valte noted.

In his message for the New Year, President Aquino summarized the country’s gains in 2014.

These include the continuing upward trajectory of the country’s economy with the upgrades of major credit rating agencies in 2014.

The upgrades given to the Philippines by Standard & Poors and Moody’s last year made the country even more attractive to businesses and tourists.

These gains gave the government enough resources to pursue programs that improves the people’s lives particularly on social protection, education, and job creation, the President said.

Year 2014 also saw the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which would bring lasting peace in Mindanao.

The peace pact will open the floodgates for tourism and investments to the island, the President said. He said he expects further development in the region once the Bangsamoro Basic Law is passed.

The President also said in his message that the country also made strides in terms of disaster preparedness, with both the national and local governments performing better in 2014.

He thanked front-liners, first-responders, volunteers, and partners for their contributions in responding to the calamities that hit the country last year.

At the same time, the President rallied the support of every Filipino now that his administration is approaching its final year saying every step and contribution becomes more crucial in the country’s quest to create a more inclusive future. PND (as)