08 January 2015

Malacañang condemns killing of Abante reporter
The Palace has condemned the killing of a Bataan-based reporter of the daily tabloid Abante.

“Kinokondena at ikinalulungkot namin ang pagpaslang kaninang umaga kay Binibining (Nerlita) ‘Nerlie’ Ledesma ng pahayagang ‘Abante’,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. told reporters during a press briefing on Thursday.

Ledesma was waiting for a ride in Tuyo, Bataan on her way to work early Thursday morning, when a man riding a motorcycle shot her four times in the chest.

Coloma assured the victim’s family that the authorities are pursuing the assailant.

“Tinutugis na ng PNP ang mga pinaghihinalaang salarin at sila ay pinag-utusan na gawin ang nararapat upang panagutin ang mga nagsagawa ng krimen na ito,” he said.

Ledesma is the 172nd journalist to be slain since democracy was restored in 1986. PND (ag)

President Aquino meets with church leaders to iron out preparations for Pope Francis’ visit
President Benigno S. Aquino III met with leaders of the Catholic Church on Thursday to go over the preparations being made for the visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines next week.The President, together with members of his Cabinet, met with Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and other leaders of the Catholic Church to discuss the security aspect of the pope’s visit, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a press briefing in Malacañang.

“Nagkakaisa ang pamahalaan at ang simbahan sa panawagan sa mga mamamayan hinggil sa kanilang pakikiisa sa lahat ng mga ipaiiral na patakaran na naglalayong tiyakin ang maayos na daloy ng lahat ng kaganapan at ang kaligtasan ng lahat ng lalahok,” Coloma said.

“Tinukoy ang kahalagahan ng kooperasyon mula sa lahat ng inaasahang dadalo sa mga misa sa Luneta at Tacloban, at sa mga sasaksi sa motorcade ng Santo Papa sa Kamaynilaan at Leyte.”

Coloma called on the people to stay calm and follow appropriate guidelines to ensure their safety and the pope’s security.

For the mass in Luneta on January 18, he said, the Rizal Park and the Quirino Grandstand will be open to the public from 6 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Participants will not be allowed to bring bags and backpacks, he said.

“Maaaring magbaon ng pagkain, inumin, at mahalagang kagamitan na dapat ay nakapaloob sa clear o transparent plastic bag o container,” he said, advising those who will attend the mass to bring fans, hats and raincoats, instead of umbrellas.

“Mahigpit na ipatutupad ang mga hakbang panseguridad. Hindi pahihintulutan sa mga itinakdang secured areas ang mga ‘di awtorisadong indibidwal. Mamamahagi rin ng car passes para sa mga awtorisadong sasakyan lamang,” Coloma said.

The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will announce a detailed traffic rerouting plan for the affected areas after the feast of the Black Nazarene on Friday, January 9, he said.

The MMDA will designate drop-off points and parking areas for those joining the events in Manila.

Coloma also said that the Manila International Airport Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines have already announced the cancellation of air travel and the limitation of flights during the pope’s visit. The two agencies have called on travelers to cooperate with the authorities.

The President has designated Undersecretary Emmanuel Bautista as the point person on security preparations during the papal visit.

Pope Francis is set to arrive in Manila on Thursday, January 15.

On Friday, January 16, he will meet with senior officials and members of the diplomatic corps at Malacañang Palace, then celebrate a mass at the Manila Cathedral and meet with families at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

On Saturday, January 17, the pope will visit Leyte and celebrate a mass at the Tacloban Airport, bless the Pope Francis Center for the Poor, and meet with priests and seminarians in Palo, Leyte as well as families representing xthose affected by Typhoon Yolanda last year.
On Sunday, January 18, the pontiff will meet with youths at the University of Santo Tomas and celebrate a mass at the Rizal Park.

Joining the President during the meeting were Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr., Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo, Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, and Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya.

MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia, Presidential Management Staff Secretary Julia Abad, and Acting Health Secretary Janette Garin were also present.

Cardinal Tagle on the other hand was accompanied by Papal Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, Deputy Head of Mission Reverend Monsignor Chibuike Onyeaghala, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines President Archbishop Socrates Villegas, and CBCP Secretary Fr. Rufino Cescon, Jr. PND (as)

Palace: Those responsible for Bilibid explosion will be punished
Those responsible for the explosion that killed one inmate and injured 19 others at the national penitentiary will be held accountable, a Malacañang official said Thursday.

“Seryosong bagay ito at lahat ng anggulo hinggil dito ay pinasisiyasat ni Kalihim Leila de Lima (of the Department of Justice) at titiyakin na ang mga dapat managot ay mananagot hinggil dito,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during the daily press briefing.

The explosion occurred inside Building 5 of the National Bilibid Prison’s Maximum Security Compound at 9:55 a.m. on Thursday. According to reports, investigators have found parts of an MK2 fragmentation grenade at the scene of the blast.

The compound reportedly houses members of the Commando Gang.

Prior to this incident, the Department of Justice has initiated a raid on the Maximum Security Compound, which yielded firearms, cash, liquor, drugs and other contraband.

The Maximum Security Compound also houses convicted drug lords and notorious robbery gang leaders. PND (ag)

Palace calls for calm and order during the Feast of the Black Nazarene
The Palace has appealed for calm and order during the procession to be held in Manila on Friday for the Feast of the Black Nazarene.

“Nakikiisa po kami sa ating mga kababayan na mga deboto ng Mahal na Poong Nazareno. Nandiyan po ang panawagan ng pamahalaan na manatili silang mahinahon,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a press briefing in Malacañang on Thursday.

“Isagawa po nila ‘yung kanilang debosyon sa isang paraan na mapapanatili ang kaayusan at seguridad ng nakararami at sumunod po sa patakarang ipapatupad ng mga awtoridad.”

Secretary Coloma said the feast in Quiapo was mentioned as a reference for the security preparations for Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines next week, which were discussed during President Benigno S. Aquino III’s meeting with Church leaders on Thursday.

The Feast of the Black Nazarene is always a relevant backdrop for large events such as the visit of Pope Francis because it deals with a very huge number of devotees, he said.

The traditional “Pahalik sa Poong Nazareno” began Thursday afternoon at the Quirino Grandstand.

This will be followed by a band parade at 3:30 p.m. Vespers will be held at 5 p.m. The overnight vigil begins at 5:30 p.m. and will last until 11:30 p.m.

A mass will be celebrated at midnight, to be officiated by Msgr. Jose Clemente F. Ignacio, rector and parish priest of the Quiapo Church.

At 6 a.m. on Friday, January 9, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle will lead the Liturgy for Procession, to be followed by the grand “Traslacion” at 7 a.m. PND (as)

President Aquino to visit Romblon on Friday
(Romblon, Romblon) President Benigno S. Aquino III is scheduled to visit the province of Romblon on Friday to conduct an aerial inspection of a road project and lead the ceremonial inauguration of the provincial hospital’s new buildings.

To be accompanied by some of his Cabinet secretaries, President Aquino will have an aerial inspection of the ongoing construction of the Romblon-Sawang-Agpanabat provincial road.

The President will then proceed to the Romblon Public Theater in Poblacion here to lead the ceremonial unveiling of the marker of Buildings 1 and 2 of the recently upgraded Romblon Provincial Hospital, situated in the town of Odiongan in nearby Tablas Island.

The Chief Executive will be welcomed by Romblon Governor Eduardo Firmalo, Romblon Representative Eleandro Jesus Madrona, and Romblon town Mayor Gerard Montojo.

This is the first time the President will visit the province. He is expected to address the people and have a photo opportunity with local officials, who will present to the President novelty items made of marble. Romblon is known for its marble industry.

The President will be joined by Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Acting Health Secretary Janette Garin, and Presidential Management Staff Chief Julia Abad.

President Aquino is also expected to drop by the Romblon Marble Fair, which will start on Friday. The event will showcase the works of the province’s marble sculptors and other products of Romblon. PND (jb)

President Aquino to unveil marker of new buildings of Romblon Provincial Hospital
  (ROMBLON, Romblon) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday will lead the ceremonial unveiling of the marker of two new buildings of the recently upgraded Romblon Provincial Hospital (RPH).

President Aquino will be assisted by Acting Health Secretary Janette Garin, Romblon Representative Eleandro Jesus Madrona, and Romblon Governor Eduardo Firmalo during the unveiling, to be held at the Romblon Public Theater here.

The event will be witnessed by Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, and Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, who will join the President during his first visit to the province.

Located in the municipality of Odiongan in Tablas Island, the RPH is the only Level 1 hospital in the province. It provides various health services, such as surgical, medical, maternal and health care, dental and clinical laboratory services.

The hospital, which serves 17 municipalities, is manned by 87 personnel. It has a 75-bed capacity and serves an average of 65 patients daily.

The hospital’s Building 1, which cost P138 million, has already been fully operational since April last year. It is a four-level building, which houses the hospital’s administrative section, pediatrics department, internal medicine department, temporary laboratory, emergency rooms, wards and offices as well as storage rooms for the Botika ng Lalawigan, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, PhilHealth, and Department of Health.

Building 2, meanwhile, is 95 percent complete. The project cost P118 million and the building’s third floor is intended for X-ray, CT scan, labor and delivery rooms, operation rooms, and Neonatal Intensive Care rooms. It also has wards and private rooms.

This year, the RPH will start construction of Building 3, which will house the laboratories, emergency room, operating room, Intensive Care Unit, five bed wards and private rooms. The proposed funding for the project is P84 million.

Aside from the buildings, the RPH has also completed the construction of its Blood Center, conference hall and quarters for doctors.

The hospital’s infrastructure development projects form part of the Province-wide Investment Plan for Health (PIPH) for the entire province, with funding support provided by a European Commission (EC) Grant and the Department of Health.

The PIPH is a five-year plan that seeks to address the different health concerns of the province for calendar years 2005 to 2009. However, its implementation began only in 2007.

Through the DOH’s Health Facilities Enhancement Program, the RPH was allocated P526.92 million for the construction of two buildings and P7.04 million for medical equipment. PND (jb)

Government willing to work with private sector to provide Filipinos better health care, says President Aquino
The government is ready to work with health professionals here and abroad to provide Filipinos better health care, President Benigno S. Aquino III said Thursday.

Speaking before participants of the Philippine Physicians in America-Philippine Medical Association Joint Congress 2015 at the Manila Hotel, the President extended his gratitude to health professionals who continue to help provide the people quality health care, underscoring the importance of government-private sector partnership.

“The goal of making good, quality health care available to all Filipinos cannot rest on the shoulders of a single entity or sector,” he said in his speech.

“All stakeholders, from government and private sector alike, must do their utmost. This is precisely why our administration has directed tremendous focus to the health sector.”

For its part, the government is making strides, he said, citing that from 2010 to 2014, the approved budget for the Department of Health (DOH) more than tripled from P24.65 billion to P83.72 billion.

In the 2015 budget, the allocation for the DOH increased even further to P86.97 billion.

Once the so-called Sin Taxes are finally computed, these figures will rise significantly, the President said.

The government was also able to register a vast majority of the country’s population under PhilHealth, the national health insurance program, he said, adding that it likewise expanded the diseases covered by the program to include those that pose the greatest threat to the lives of the people.

President Aquino further said that the country’s health facilities are being upgraded.

The administration, he said, had spent P46.39 billion to upgrade more than 6,900 health facilities nationwide from 2010 to 2014.

The government has also strategically deployed health professionals to communities, he added.

“During our term alone, for instance, we have deployed 429 doctors, 9,137 midwives, 48,390 community health teams, and 64,023 registered nurses to communities found to be in need,” President Aquino said.

Social interventions are also being carried out to ensure better health care through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program, which covers more than four million Filipino households.

He noted that as a preventive measure against diseases, the government has strengthened its immunization program against measles and other illnesses.

As of November 2014, the government has been able to immunize 91 percent of Filipino children aged one-year old and below from measles.

The target is to immunize at least 95 percent of children in the age bracket, the Chief Executive said.

In 2012, the government also launched the rotavirus vaccine to immunize infants from the most common cause of severe diarrhea, he said.

The DOH has so far vaccinated more than 670,000 infants from the country’s poorest families, the President noted. PND (as)