26 Jan 2016

Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach pays courtesy call on President Aquino
Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach on Tuesday paid a courtesy call on President Benigno S. Aquino III in Malacañang Palace.The Filipino-German model, who won the Miss Universe 2015 title last December 20 in Las Vegas, Nevada, was accompanied by her mother Cheryl Alonzo Tyndall, Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. Chairperson Stella Marquez-Araneta, and Miss Universe Organization President Paula Shugart when she met with the Chief Executive at the President’s Hall sala.

After the courtesy call, Wurtzbach held a press conference with Palace reporters at the Malacañang Palace Guesthouse.
The 5-foot-8 beauty queen said she felt honored to meet President Aquino.

“He congratulated me and we talked about Miss Universe for a little bit, also with what he has been busy with lately and how he has been doing, how I have been doing… and he congratulated me; I also congratulated him for a successful term,” she said.

“It is an honor to be in the presence of the President, of course, especially now that I am here as Miss Universe bringing back home the crown for the Filipinos,” said Wurtzbach, who was wearing a rose quartz-colored terno designed by fashion designer Albert Andrada.

When asked to comment on the coming elections, she expressed hope that the Filipinos would think hard before casting their votes.

“I hope that we elect the right people because it is going to shape the country for the next couple of years, so it is very important. My advice would be kilalanin niyo po mabuti ‘yung mga iboboto ninyo. Dapat po magaan sa loob niyo kung sino ‘yung mga iboboto ninyo. Hindi po sapilitan, hindi po parang minadaling desisyon. Kailangan po magaan sa loob ninyo kung sino ‘yung iboboto niyo po for the elections,” said Wurtzbach, who was born in Stuttgart, Germany but grew up in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental – her mother’s hometown.

As for her HIV/AIDS advocacy, she stressed the importance of education in preventing the disease.

“Educate yourself about it. I think a lot of people think or most of the youth think that you can only acquire this disease if you are in sexual contact — with sexual contact — but you can also get this from drug use, from sharing needles, things like these. And I don’t think a lot of people know this. Rampant drug use is also one cause,” she explained.

“And I think that people — the youth — should be aware that it is very easy to have yourself tested. It is just a cotton swab actually. I myself, I am going to be tested in New York when I go back; and hopefully when I do this, other people will follow suit when they see how easy it is to do and then right away you will find out the result; and there you go, you have your peace of mind or if you find out that you actually have the disease, then you can take the proper steps into taking care of yourself,” she added.

Wurtzbach, who won the Binibining Pilipinas title on her third attempt, said she is excited to work as special correspondent of Inside Edition for the Super Bowl next month.

“I am very excited. I think it is a great compliment. I see it as a compliment because they wouldn’t trust me with the microphone if they didn’t think that I could do well or speak (well). So I think that is a pretty good sign. So it is a great way of me connecting to more people, meeting new people and being recognized, not just as a Miss Universe, not just as Pia, but also as a Filipina,” said Wurtzbach, who studied at the ABS-CBN Distance Learning School in Quezon City and Center for Asian Culinary Studies in San Juan, Manila. Aside from acting, she is also a writer, stylist and make-up artist. PND (jm)

Palace welcomes results of latest survey on optimism and confidence
Malacañang on Tuesday welcomed the results of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showing high ratings on optimism over the quality of life and confidence on economic growth.

“We welcome the latest batch of results released by the Social Weather Stations from its Fourth Quarter 2015 Survey, which show positive ratings for personal optimism, confidence about the economy, and change in quality of life,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a statement.

He noted that optimism has reached a record high in the fourth quarter.

“For personal optimism, the survey found 45 percent of adults expecting their quality of life to improve over the coming year, with only 5% percent expecting the opposite. The percentage of optimists is up from 38 percent since last September, and is the highest in 28 years,” said Secretary Lacierda.

“Results are similarly positive for Filipino confidence about the economy. From 30 percent last quarter, those who expect the economy to get better jumped to 39 percent, while those who expect it to worsen dropped from 12 percent to 8 percent. These latest figures are the best for this series in the past five years. Finally, the survey also found 31 percent of respondents saying that their personal quality of life improved over the past 12 months, up from 29 percent last quarter,” he added.

“This shows that optimism continues to surge among Filipinos, in line with recent results, also from the SWS, which found 72 percent of respondents expecting a happy Christmas—the highest in 12 years—and 92 percent feeling hopeful about the new year,” he further said.

Lacierda said the “encouraging” results of the latest SWS report “continue to inspire us in government to serve our Bosses better”.

“By aiming for growth that is not only sustained but also inclusive, the Aquino administration ensures that national progress translates to concrete benefits for our people. Over the past five years, such a policy has led to advancements in education, health care, and other social services, including the sustained expansion of our Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program,” he said.

The Palace official said he believes that the Filipino people will consider the continuity of the Aquino administration’s Daang Matuwid advocacy of good governance when they cast their ballots in the coming elections.

“During the next elections, we trust that the Filipino people will vote to continue our upward trajectory along Daang Matuwid, and help make the Filipino dream possible for many generations to come,” said Lacierda.

The survey, conducted from December 5 to 8 last year, asked 1,200 adults nationwide about trends in personal quality of life and optimism about the Philippine economy. PND (jm)

President Aquino approves privatization of IBC-13
  President Benigno S. Aquino III has approved the privatization of the Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC-13), based on the recommendation of the Governance Commission for Government-Owned or -Controlled Corporations (GOCCs).”The Office of the President has approved the recommendation of the Governance Commission on GOCCs (GCG) for the privatization of the Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation or IBC-13. The transaction will be through open competitive bidding, covering the entire shareholdings of government in the said network,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

The government is selling the TV station for P1.98 billion.

“As approved, the floor price for the sale is at P1.98 billion, which was arrived at based on consultations with the Department of Finance and Department of Budget and Management, including recommendations of the financial advisory team composed of the Development Bank of the Philippines, the auditing firm KPMG & Co. and the law firm of Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & de los Angeles,” Secretary Coloma said.

The Palace official said representatives of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and IBC-13 will assist the GCG “for purposes of the sale”.

“IBC-13 is an attached agency of the PCOO, pursuant to Executive Order No. 4, s. 2010. The details of the bidding, including timelines for the privatization, will be issued in due course, once the team shall have finalized the necessary documentary requirements, as mandated by law,” said Coloma.

According to the GCG, the privatization “rationalizes the state’s portfolio in the Communications Sector in view of the overlap with PTV-4, which is already sufficient to address market failures in the private broadcast industry, such as providing programs with social value but are not considered profitable. This comes in the wake of the recent revitalization of PTV-4 mandated by Republic Act No. 10390, which identified the privatization of IBC-13 as one of the sources of funding the increase in PTV-4’s capital”.

“IBC-13 was also in financial distress – operating at an average net loss of P45.26 million from 2010 to 2014 and receiving operational subsidies amounting to P23.56 million in 2015. The privatization should pave the way for the infusion of additional capital to revitalize the network, which will also be able to operate with more flexibility as a private entity,” the GCG statement added.

Known as the Inter-Island Broadcasting Corporation when it started out as a private company in 1960, IBC-13 was sequestered by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) in 1986 as part of the recovery of ill-gotten wealth. It has been one of two networks considered as GOCCs aside from the People’s Television Network, Inc. (PTV-4). The government also has a minor share in Radio Philippines Network (RPN-9). PND (jm)

Japan’s Imperial couple arrives in Manila for five-day state visit
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan arrived in Manila Tuesday for a five-day state visit to the country, marking the 60th anniversary of Philippine-Japanese diplomatic relations.

The plane carrying Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress landed at 2:40 p.m. at the AGES Aviation Center, Balagbag Ramp in Pasay City, where they were accorded arrival honors.

On hand to welcome the Japanese imperial couple upon their arrival was President Benigno S. Aquino III, accompanied by his sister, Aurora Corazon Aquino-Abellada.

After the arrival honors, the President introduced his Cabinet, including Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto del Rosario, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr., Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, and Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson to the Imperial couple.

Also present were Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Trade and Industry Secretary Adrian Cristobal, Jr., outgoing National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director General Arsenio Balisacan, Presidential Management Staff Chief Julia Andrea Abad, and Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manuel Lopez.

The Japanese Emperor and Empress are scheduled to meet with members of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers on Tuesday afternoon.

During their stay, Their Majesties will be given a welcome ceremony and a state dinner to be hosted by President Aquino in Malacañang Palace on Wednesday. Their Majesties are also scheduled to visit Laguna.

The trip is the first official visit by a reigning Japanese emperor to Southeast Asia. Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress visited the country for the first time in November 1962 when they were Crown Prince and Crown Princess. PND (co)