07 July 2015

Malacañang welcomes survey results on greater public satisfaction with Aquino administration
The Palace on Tuesday welcomed the results of the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showing greater public satisfaction with President Benigno S. Aquino III’s administration.

In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the latest installment of findings from the Second Quarter 2015 SWS Survey showed that public satisfaction with the Aquino administration has improved from 48 percent last March to 55 percent, and that dissatisfaction has fallen from 29 percent to 24 percent.

“This welcome news comes a day after our country received a credit rating upgrade from the Japan Credit Rating Agency (JCRA), which has raised our rating from BBB- to BBB+ stable — the 22nd such positive rating action under the Aquino administration,” said Secretary Lacierda.

The Palace official said “another report which affirms the administration’s commitment to Daang Matuwid is a TIME magazine infographic based on a Gallup poll citing the Philippines as among the top places in the world where job optimism remains high.”

“Despite a relatively pessimistic international outlook on the job market, 65 percent of Filipino respondents believed that now is a good time to find a job. The creation of jobs and the expansion of opportunities have always been among the administration’s top priorities, cognizant that it is through such investments in the people that we will be able to build a truly inclusive nation,” he said.

“With less than one year left before the 2016 elections, the Aquino government is hard at work boosting our economy and maximizing our country’s potential and resources. The end goal is, of course, the advancement of the Filipino people, whose trust and optimism continue to inspire the administration to serve them better. Likewise, beyond 2016, it is the public who will ensure the continuity of Daang Matuwid, and make the right choice for the benefit of generations to come,” he added.

On the credit rating upgrade from the JCRA, Lacierda noted that under the Aquino administration, the country has received two previous credit rating upgrades from the agency — in April 2011 and May 2013.

He said the JCRA press release cited the Aquino administration’s “commitment to prudent fiscal management policy” as having improved the Philippines’ position.

“The figures speak for themselves: our central government debt-to-GDP (gross domestic product) ratio fell from 49.2 percent in 2013 to 45.4 percent at the end of 2014. Driven by strong domestic demand, the Philippine economy is projected to sustain a positive trajectory in terms of economic growth,” Lacierda said.

“The aim of building a truly progressive and inclusive nation has been at the center of the Aquino administration’s vision since 2010. Recent advances in health, education, job creation, and infrastructure — as well as positive news such as this — serve to affirm the strength of this commitment.”

“As the President has repeatedly said, all these investments are meant to benefit the Filipino people, our nation’s greatest resource. Along with characteristic optimism and diligence, it is the public’s continuing confidence in the government, which has made our country’s economic resurgence possible. Moving forward, the Aquino administration aims to pursue even greater heights for our country and bring about increased opportunities for all,” he added. PND (jm)

Philippines ready to present case before Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague
The Philippines is set to present its case before the Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague, the Netherlands, to argue that the tribunal has jurisdiction to hear the country’s case against China. Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte, in a news bulletin issued on Monday, said the first hearing will be held from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (about 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., Manila time) at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Peace Palace.

Valte said Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, as agent of the Philippines, will open the presentation.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario will speak on the reason for the filing of the Philippines’ case, while lawyers from the Washington-based law firm Foley Hoag, led by Paul Reichler, will present the arguments regarding jurisdiction, she said.

The Palace official also said “the entire Philippine delegation will be present to witness the proceedings.”

The members from the executive, legislature and judiciary who form part of the Philippine delegation are House of Representatives Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr., Supreme Court Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Francis Jardeleza, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Benjamin Caguioa, Sandiganbayan Justice Sarah Fernandez, Undersecretary Emmanuel Bautista, and Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevara.

The Philippines filed the arbitration case against China in 2013, questioning the latter’s claims to most of the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea). China has refused to participate in the case but in a public position paper in December, it raised concerns about the tribunal’s jurisdiction over the matter.

According to news reports, the tribunal last April acknowledged China’s objections, setting a hearing on jurisdiction on July 7 to 13. PND (jm)

President Aquino approves proposed P3 trillion national budget for 2016
President Benigno S. Aquino III, during a Cabinet meeting on Monday, approved the proposed 2016 national expenditure program, which reached P3.002 trillion.

This represents a 15.2 percent increase from the 2015 national budget and comprises 19.5 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said.

“The proposed budget with the theme, Paggugol na Matuwid: Saligan sa Tuloy-Tuloy na Pag-Unlad, is anchored on the following principles: (1) Spending within our means; (2) Investing in the right priorities; (3) Delivering measurable results; and (4) Empowering citizens through fiscal transparency, accountability and participation,” Secretary Coloma said.

The Department of Education gets the biggest allocation with P436.5 billion, followed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with P401.14 billion, he said, noting that the two departments’ combined budgets represent more than a quarter of the total 2016 national budget.

The Department of National Defense has the third biggest allocation with P172 billion, followed by the Department of Interior and Local Government with P156 billion, the Department of Health (DOH) with P128.5 billion, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development with P107.6 billion.

“Among all the agencies in the Executive Department, the DPWH and the DOH received the highest increases in their annual budgets at 32 percent and 25.2 percent respectively, as part of efforts to boost public infrastructure development and support economic expansion, as well as to improve health care services, especially to the poor and most vulnerable sectors of society,” Coloma said.

“President Aquino directed all Cabinet members to intensify efforts at completing the delivery of programs, especially those on public infrastructure, including the rehabilitation of ‘Yolanda’-affected and other calamity areas, and on strengthening public institutions,” he added.

The proposed budget will be submitted to Congress a day after the President delivers his final State of the Nation Address on July 27. PND (ag)

Government monitoring Typhoon Falcon, says Palace
Malacañang is monitoring the expected entry of Typhoon Falcon in the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) as Tropical Storm Egay exited on Tuesday morning, an official has said.

President Benigno S. Aquino III is waiting for updates and the comprehensive report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council with regards to Typhoon Egay, which struck northern Luzon, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during Tuesday’s press briefing at the Palace.

“At hinihintay natin o inaantabayanan naman natin sa ngayon ang papalapit na Tropical Storm Falcon,” he told reporters.

The government is also keeping track of the situation on the ground, especially areas affected by flooding, Secretary Coloma said.

“Iyon naman pong mga local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, sa pangunguna ng mga provincial and local government officials, ay ginagawa ang kanilang mga tungkulin,” he said.

These councils respond to emergencies in their localities, he said, adding that the national government is ready to extend additional assistance, if necessary.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Tropical Storm Egay moved out of the PAR on Tuesday morning but noted that Typhoon Falcon is expected to enter on Tuesday evening or early Wednesday. PND (as)