25 July 2015

Palace asks the Filipino public to listen to President’s State of the Nation Address on Monday
Malacanang encouraged the public to listen to President Aquino’s sixth and last state-of-the-nation address (SONA) on Monday, which is said to have national significance.

“We’re asking everyone to take time to listen to what the President has to say so we can talk about the data or whatever the programs are that will be mentioned by the President,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview on Saturday.

The President’s SONA will be broadcast live on television and on radios. It will also be available in the government website, the Official Gazette, as well as on Twitter, Valte told dzRB Radyo Ng Bayan.

“So let’s not miss the sixth and last SONA of President Aquino on Monday.”

The President’s SONA is important and a serious matter, Valte said which is why the President prepares well for the SONA.

President Aquino expects the public to listen to his message and everyone’s focus is to understand his speech, Valte said.

For those planning protest actions, Valte made an appeal for them to cooperate with the authorities and keep the protests peaceful and safe.

“Kasama po ‘yan sa ating demokrasya, ‘yung the ability to rally, to demonstrate, and to be able to express your thoughts on a certain issue or a certain administration, but again, let’s keep it peaceful,” she said asking them not to provoke the authorities.

On the issues about outfit of those attending the event, Valte said that as far as the Palace is concerned, they will keep simple and follow the appropriate dress code but the focus would be the message the President will deliver to the public.

As to the attire of the President, Valte said he always wears barong, and he probably will on Monday.

“He does not really give much thought into what he is going to wear because it’s really the speech that he pays attention to,” she said.

Designer Paul Cabral always makes the barongs that the President wears, she said. PND (as)

Improvements to MRT system to be carried out soon, says Palace
The prototype coaches for the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) are arriving and will be tested to improve the rail system in Metro Manila’s major thoroughfare, a Palace official said.

“I think what the DOTC said is that the prototypes are coming. So they are going to be shipped to Manila to be tested,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview on Saturday.

Valte said over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan that buying new coaches for the MRT is not like purchasing something from a hardware and putting it in use immediately.

The prototype has been made and waiting to be delivered and will be tested if it fits the MRT system.

“Assuming that everything works and fit for our system, then that’s when we can procure the additional ones,” she said.

With regards to the charges that some quarters wanted to be filed against Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Valte said the transport chief is ready to answer the possible charges against him.

“Handa namang sumagot si Secretary Abaya when it comes to matters that are under the DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communications), especially when it comes to legal processes,” Valte said.

“At least it will be a chance for him to air or to ventilate his side on that issue.” PND (as)

Palace on the ‘Iglesia ni Cristo’ controversy
The national government’s interest in probing the recent controversy involving members of Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) is limited to verifying whether a crime has indeed been committed, Malacañang said Saturday.

Speaking over Radyo ng Bayan, Undersecretary Abigail Valte said both the Department of Justice and the Philippine National Police are already looking into the matter, amid reports that the INC is in possession of high-caliber guns, which it allegedly used to intimidate ministers who are critical of its current leadership.

“Secretary (Leila) de Lima has dispatched a team from the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) to verify allegations, so kung mayroon hong mga ganyan ay maisasama na ito doon sa imbestigasyon,” she said.

“Remember that the State is only concerned with any possibility that a crime may have been committed, pero doon po sa mga ibang pinag-uusapan ay hindi na po kasali ang estado doon,” Valte added.

Valte downplayed questions whether Malacañang is alarmed by these developments, given the fact that INC is known as an influential religious group whose members vote as a bloc in every election.

“‘Yung sa ‘vote as a bloc,’ hindi po natin napag-uusapan ito, in light of the recent incident. But, again, mayroon na ho tayong… Kumbaga, ang NBI nagpadala na po sila ng kanilang team, at tingnan na lang po natin,” Valte said.

“I can say that since this happened, of course, we’re aware of it because it has been plastered all over the news. But, beyond that, medyo marami din pong ibang napapagtuunan ng pansin ang Pangulo,” she added.

The NBI is verifying serious allegations of harassment and abduction involving some ministers and members of the INC, as claimed by Felix Nathaniel ‘Angel’ Manalo in a video posted on YouTube this week, which then spread out to various social media platforms.

Angel is grandson to INC’s founding father Felix, son to the late executive minister, Eraño, and brother to the current leader, Eduardo.

In the video, which ran under two minutes, Angel and his mother, Tenny, claimed that their lives were in danger and were seeking help from the public. They also appealed to their fellow INC members to aid the families of the ministers who allegedly disappeared and are yet to be found.

Angel and the other ministers are reportedly questioning some of the big-ticket projects of the INC, including the construction of the $200-million or P7.8-billion Philippine Arena within the 50-hectare Ciudad de Victoria property of the religious group in Bocaue, Bulacan.

The INC administration denied the allegations of corruption, harassment and abduction, and has since expelled some of its members, including Angel and his mother. PND (hdc)