14 July 2015

Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague concludes hearing on Philippines’ jurisdiction case
The Arbitral Tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague has concluded its hearing on the jurisdiction and admissibility of the Philippines’ case against China, a Malacañang official said.“Today, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, Netherlands concluded the hearing on jurisdiction and admissibility of the Philippines’ claims against China,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a news bulletin issued on Tuesday.

“The Arbitral Tribunal scheduled two rounds of hearing on jurisdiction and admissibility on the case filed by the Philippines. The first round of oral arguments was held on 7-8 July 2015. The Tribunal deliberated on scheduling a second round of arguments, conscious of its duty to assure parties of the full opportunity to present its case,” Valte stated.

“The hearing concluded with the second round of arguments conducted today for the Philippines to address additional and clarificatory questions from the Tribunal. Solicitor General Florin Hilbay delivered the closing statement,” she added.

Valte said the Philippines has until July 23 to give its written submission to the Tribunal to amplify its answers to questions posed by individual members of the tribunal.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has stressed the importance of the case, not just to the ASEAN region but also to the world, in his statement at the start of the hearing last week.

“This is a matter that is most important not only to the Philippines, but also to all coastal States that border to the South China Sea, and even to all States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” said Del Rosario, a member of the Philippine delegation, which was represented by all three branches of the government. PND (jm)

Palace welcomes Catholic Bishops’ statements on national concerns
Malacañang on Tuesday welcomed the statements made by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) regarding various national issues.

“We acknowledge and appreciate the advocacy of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on significant national concerns,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during the daily press briefing at the Palace.

On the CBCP statement calling for a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that is “rooted in and promotes social justice” and one that “concretely achieves the self-determination of the Bangsamoro”, Secretary Coloma said the government shares the bishops’ primordial concern for social justice.

“This is why President Aquino convened a multi-sectoral Peace Council that adopted the position taken by 14 members of 1986 Constitutional Commission on ‘the essential constitutionality of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law’ as it is consistent ‘with the vision, spirit and the core principles behind the provisions on autonomous regions in the 1987 Constitution’,” he explained.

On the bishops’ statement of support for the pro-poor aspects of the government’s K to 12 basic education program, including the program that prepares senior high school students for early access to jobs, Coloma said that this year, the Department of Education will implement a new round of increase in the Education Service Contracting program for private school teachers and students, along with the doubling of current subsidy rates for students, through the issuance of Senior High School vouchers.

Coloma also thanked the Church for issuing an Oratio Imperata, an obligatory prayer for the strained relations between the Philippines and China.

“We thank our Bishops for calling upon the prayers of the faithful for the protection of the Philippines and a peaceful resolution of maritime entitlement issues in the West Philippine Sea,” he said.

The CBCP issued the statements, “Striving for a just peace, the moral road” in relation to the BBL last July 11, and “Advancing in wisdom and favor before God and Man”, supporting the government’s K to 12 program on July 13.

When asked about the importance of the bishops’ support for the BBL, Coloma said, “Nakikiisa ang pamahalaan sa panawagan ng mga obispo na ang batas na ipapasa ng Kongreso ay dapat na nakaugat sa katarungang panlipunan. Kaya nga’t sa bahagi ng mga konsultasyon na isinagawa ay ang pagtitiyak na ito ay mapapaloob sa Bangsamoro Basic Law.” PND (ag)

Papal Visit Task Force head named as new National Police Chief
President Benigno S. Aquino III has chosen Director Ricardo Marquez as the new chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“Ang batayan ng Pangulo ay kung sino ang pinakamahusay at kung sino ang may pinakamataas na kuwalipikasyon para sa posisyon. Kaya’t ito ang naging batayan sa paghirang kay Director Ricardo Marquez bilang incoming PNP chief,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday.

A member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1982, Marquez served as head of the police task force that secured the five-day visit of Pope Francis last January. The native of Maragondon, Cavite is currently director for operations. He will take over as PNP chief when Officer-in-Charge and Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina retires on Thursday (July 16).

Marquez’s appointment was earlier announced by Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II during a press conference in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Roxas expressed his confidence on Marquez’s leadership, saying, “Tiwala ako na ang pipiliin ng Pangulo ay may proven track record. Matibay ang kumpiyansa ko kay Director Ric Marquez. Naniniwala akong ipagpapatuloy niya ang pagbabago at kaayusan sa PNP and he will take it to further heights.”

Marquez, on the other hand, thanked President Aquino for choosing him as PNP chief.

“With humility and full gratitude, I accept the challenge to lead the 160,000-strong PNP,” he said.

Marquez served as director of the Police Regional Office 1 in 2013. He was former executive officer of the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management and deputy task force commander of the police’s Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force.

He will retire on August 28, 2016. PND (jm)

President Aquino orders intensified campaign against illegal drug trafficking
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Tuesday directed the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to conduct an intensified and more focused campaign against drug trafficking in the country.

Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said the President’s order is anchored on the Five Pillars of Action under the National Drug Program of Action 2015 to 2020 — Drug Supply Reduction; Drug Demand Reduction; Alternative Development; Civic Awareness and Response; and Regional/International Cooperation.

“The President said all concerned government agencies should concentrate on preventing the spread of illegal drugs at its source, while stopping smuggling and manufacturing activities,” Secretary Coloma said in a statement, issued following the President’s meeting with members of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) in Malacañang.

“President Aquino said law enforcement agencies should prioritize their actions based on the level of threat to the community in order to protect the welfare of the country, especially our youth,” he added.

Coloma further said that PDEA Director General Arturo Cacdac reported that 13,792 individuals had been arrested from 2010 to 2014.

“Last year, the PDEA apprehended over 1,000 high-value targets and charged more than 2,000 drug personalities in various areas in the country. The PDEA would also double its clearing operations at the barangay level and would push for the hiring of more agents to strengthen its law enforcement operations,” he said.

Coloma noted that in accordance with the President’s directive, Health Secretary Janette Garin said the Department of Health is carrying out the repair, facilities improvement and expansion of drug treatment and rehabilitation centers in the country, for which P393 million is being spent this year, while another P400 million will be disbursed in 2016.

The meeting was attended by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa as well as DDB members, including Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Health Secretary Garin, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, Commission on Higher Education Chairperson Patricia Licuanan, DDB Permanent Member Edgar Galvante, National Bureau of Investigation Director Virgilio Mendez, Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina, National Youth Commission Chairperson Gregorio Tingzon, and representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Education, Department of Interior and Local Government, and Department of Labor and Employment. PND (jm)

Malacañang declares non-working holiday during APEC meeting in Metro Manila
Malacañang on Tuesday declared November 18 and 19 as Special Non-Working Days in the National Capital Region during the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Metro Manila.

Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., said this was contained in Proclamation No. 1072, issued by President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday.

The APEC is a regional economic forum established to leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia Pacific.

The Philippines hosts this year’s APEC Economic Leader’s Meeting, which will be attended by the leaders of the grouping’s 21 member economies. PND (ag)

President Aquino declares February 25, 2016 as special non-working holiday
President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared February 25, 2016, as a special non-working holiday throughout the country in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution.

The declaration was made through Proclamation No. 1071, which was signed on July 8 by President Aquino.

The Philippines will be celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution on February 25, 2016 (Thursday).

The Edsa People Power Commission requested that February 25 be declared as a special non-working holiday throughout the country.

“The Edsa People Power Revolution, which restored our democratic institution and ushered in political, social and economic reforms in the country, serves as an inspiration to Filipinos everywhere as a nation and as a people,” the President said.

“It is but fitting and proper that the entire Filipino nation be given an opportunity to observe this milestone in our country’s history,” President Aquino said in the proclamation. PND (co)