10 January 2015

President Aquino cites various infrastructure projects in Romblon
(ROMBLON, Romblon) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday led the inauguration of government’s infrastructure projects here in the province of Romblon.

President Aquino conducted an aerial inspection of a road section of the Romblon-Sawang-Agpanabat Provincial Road here. During his speech, the President said local residents, including fishermen, would benefit from the project.

Travel time along the road will be cut from one hour to 30 minutes, the Chief Executive said. “Dagdag na benepisyo din ang hatid nito para sa mga mangingisdang maibibiyahe ang kanilang produkto nang mas sariwa sa pamilihan,” he said.

“Bukod dito, mas mabilis at ligtas na ring makapaglaklakbay ang mga estudyanteng papasok sa paaralan, ang mga kababayan nating magpapatingin sa ospital, at ang iba pang serbisyo para sa pag-asenso ng komunidad,” he added.

President Aquino said the approved budget for the project was P61.89 million. “Pero dahil sa maayos at tapat na proseso ng bidding, ang tinatayang magagastos lang natin ay nasa P56.63 million,” he said.

The project is expected to be finished by March.

While in Romblon, President Aquino also led the ceremonial unveiling of the marker of Buildings I and II of the Romblon Provincial Hospital (RPH). The upgraded RPH, located in Odiongan, serves 17 municipalities with a population of around 350,000.

“Nagtayo tayo rito ng mga bagong gusali, at nagdagdag ng mga modernong kagamitan para sa mas malawak at mas epektibong serbisyong medikal,” the President said.

The Chief Executive said the hospital was upgraded under the Health Facilities Enhancement Program of the Department of Health.

During his speech, President Aquino also enumerated other ongoing projects intended to improve accessibility and to boost trade and tourism.

The President cited the Sibuyan Circumferential Road, the San Jose Circumferential Road, the Sta. Fe-Guinbirayan Provincial Road and the Romblon-Cogon-Sablayan Road.

He also mentioned the government’s Sitio Electrification Program. “Sa inisyatibang ito, libo-libong sitio sa iba’t ibang panig ng bansa ang ating binibigyang-liwanag,” he said.

“Halimbawa po, balita sa atin, dito sa Romblon: Sa target nating 454 na sitio, nasa 315 na ang ating napailawan. Makakaasa po kayo: makukumpleto nating bigyan ng kuryente ang nalalabing mga sitio sa lalong madaling panahon,” he added.

President Aquino also mentioned the onging rehabilitation of Tablas Airport in Alcantara and the ports in Magdiwang, San Fernando, Sta. Fe, and Alcantara.

On agricultural front, the President said the repair and rehabilitation of the irrigation facilities in San Fernando and Looc was completed in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

“Panatag po ang loob nating magbuhos ng pondo para sa imprastruktura dahil alam nating bukal ito ng paglago ng ekonomiya. Kapag mas maayos ang kalsada, mas mabilis ang takbo ng mga produkto at serbisyo patungo sa merkado; mas lalago ang negosyo, na siya namang lumilikha ng trabaho, at nagbubukal ng malawakang kaunlaran,” he said. PND (co)

Government to launch massive info campaign for Pope Francis’ Philippine visit
The government will carryout an aggressive information drive starting Monday to ensure the orderly and safe visit of Pope Francis in the country next week, a Palace official said.

In a radio interview over dzRB Radyo Ng Bayan on Saturday, Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail said the President instructed the team handling the preparations for the papal visit to inform the public about the event aside from concentrating on the pope’s security. The president also wants everyone’s safety for those joining the event.

“Kasi hindi po maliit ang crowd na ini-expect po natin, so kailangan may mga kaukulang paghahanda po,” Valte said.

Beginning Monday, the government will be releasing materials that will help aid or advise the public about the upcoming papal visit.

“Magpo-produce po tayo ng iba-ibang advisories in the form of different kinds of materials that will aid those who want to participate in papal events to ready them to attend,” she said.

Authorities want the people to be ready to attend any of the papal events and must bring with them first aid kits and snacks in clear plastic bags, Valte said.

The advisories will also orient the people on the location of the portalets and the different exits, et cetera, she added. There will also be advisories on road closures, flight schedules and others.

“While ‘yung sa flights po are already made available by NAIA and the airlines, we will be putting a consolidated page on the Official Gazette where everyone can go and check kung ano po ang particular concern that applies to them,” Valte noted.

The government will leave the spiritual preparations on the Catholic Church, the Palace official added.

Valte also said they are doing all the necessary preparations because they expect a bigger crowd next week compared to the visit of Pope John II who attended the World Youth Day in 1995 in Manila.

At least five million people attended the World Youth Day at the Quirino Grandstand.

Apart from ensuring the security of His Holiness, Valte said they also want to make sure that the people would really be proud of participating in the event.

The Palace official also made an appeal asking the public to observe discipline and to cooperate with authorities.

Pope Francis will arrive in Manila January 15 for a five-day visit to the Philippines. Several events are lined up for him in Manila and in Tacloban in Leyte.

He is meeting President Aquino in Malacanang as well as the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda in Leyte. The pontiff will also hold masses in Manila during his trip. PND (as)

Palace hopes for timely passage of Bangsamoro Basic Law
The Palace said it hopes to pass the Bangsamoro Basic Law within the administration’s timetable–in the first quarter of this year to permanently put an end to decades-long Muslim separatism in Mindanao.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, the chair of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, said she will raise the legality issues of the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Santiago, has set the hearings for Jan. 26 and Feb. 2.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, in a radio interview on Saturday, said she hopes the constitutionality issues on the BBL will be settled in Congress.

“In the beginning, I understand that Senator Defensor-Santiago has always been of the position that there are certain things that she believes—that she has a contrary opinion,” Valte told dzRB Radyo Ng Bayan.

“Hopefully, these questions or positions can be the subject of discussions between her and other lawmakers, as the law is discussed in Congress.”

Asked if she thinks the the law could be passed within the administration’s time frame, the Palace official said they have not lost their optimism for its passage.

“We remain hopeful. We understand that there are a number of issues that need to be thoroughly discussed by lawmakers when this reaches the floor,” she said. “But we remain hopeful that it will make the intended timetable.”

Santiago said she wants to hear the views of those who forged the agreement. She noted the peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) also sought to establish a substate that would exercise certain sovereign powers otherwise reserved for the central government.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who conducted public hearings on the draft law in parts of Mindanao as chair of the local government committee, agreed that the issue of substate was the “main constitutional question.” PND (as)

Palace asks public vigilance against fraudulent pre-need companies
The public must be wary about the proliferation of fly-by-night pre-need companies to avoid being victimized by these illegitimate insurance companies, the Palace said on Saturday.

In a radio interview, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Insurance Commission must not only focus on cases against erring pre-need companies but also on new companies entering the market.

“Ang dapat nila talagang binabantayan ay ‘yung mga bago pa. Bago pa magkaroon ng kaso ay siguraduhin na that these companies stay afloat and are not fly-by-night companies,” Valte told dzRB Radyo Ng Bayan.

“Isa po ‘yan sa mga trabaho dapat talaga ng Insurance Commission kasi mayroon iyang necessary capitalization at dapat nababantayan din po ‘yung nagiging assets ng mga pre-need companies na ‘yan.”

Nobody wants a repeat of the bad experiences of those who subscribed to pre-need companies in the past that in the end went bankrupt.

Companies must be guarded by the Insurance Commission, know their capitalization regularly to track whether they remain afloat, according to Valte.

Those applying for licenses must also be scrutinized to determine if they are not fly-by-night entities.

Big companies could also become troublesome, Valte said. For instance, in the case of Prudentialife Plans and College Assurance Plans, two big companies, that defaulted on their obligations because of lack of monitoring after they were set up.

“Ang nangyari nang na-set up na, hinayaan na lang, hindi na nabantayan. So ngayon, kailangan talagang binabantayan,” she said.

Aside from the Insurance Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission is also monitoring the operations of pre-need companies. PND (as)