10 June 2016

New ambassadors present credentials to President Aquino
Ambassadors-designate from Cuba, Samoa and Finland presented their credentials to President Aquino on Thursday hoping continuing good relations with the Philippines.
Among those who presented their credentials to the President were Faalavaau Perina Jacqueline Sila-Tualaulelei of Samoa, Ibete Fernandez Hernandez of Cuba and Petri Juhani Puhakka of Finland.In his message during the event held in Malacanang, President Aquino said their tours of duty to the Philippines have come at an opportune time after the Philippines strengthened its capability and rehabilitated its image both locally and abroad.

“Indeed as we witness the evolution of the very framework by which our world functions and as we continue to confront issues that are increasingly less parochial, it is critical for each and every nation to be ready to fulfill its responsibilities as members of the community of nations,” he told the new ambassadors.

“I’m proud to say that in this regard the Philippines is readier than ever before.”

The President also said he is confident that the new ambassadors will continue to build on relations with his successor after he assumes office on June 30.

The friendship between the Philippines and countries they represent as well as the collective commitment to serve their peoples must endure beyond the term and the leader, he noted.

“I’m confident that you will continue to work together towards creating a global landscape that can empower and uplift each and everyone of our citizens,” the President said. PND (as)

President Aquino enumerates gains from Mindanao peace
President Aquino spelled out the dividends of peace over the past six years in Mindanao as the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front hammered a deal for lasting peace in the region.

During the launch of the book “Junctures, Selected Speeches and Statements” by OPPAP, the President said the government has worked to provide critical support to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as both sides iron out a peace deal.

For infrastructure, From 2011 to 2016, the national and regional governments invested a total of P61.64 billion in roads, bridges, and flood control projects in the region, compared to just around P11 billion from 2005 to 2010, he said.

Among these projects include the long-awaited Basilan Circumferential Road, which began construction in the year 2000, as well as the improvement of eight ports and two airports to promote regional connectivity.

The government has also intensified the implementation of 4Ps program whose coverage in the region has skyrocketed, from 37,564 households as of June 2010 to 442,924 under present administration.

The government also improved education and healthcare in the region. From 2011 to 2015, it has built 5,018 classrooms in ARMM. Through TESDA, the administration also provided skills training programs to around 25,000 beneficiaries in ARMM.

To address the shortage of medical professionals in the rural areas, it deployed 109 doctors, 3,855 nurses, 300 midwives, 22 dentists, and 78 public health associates from 2011 to 2015.

On top of this, the government also expanded access to electricity—electrifying 846 target sitios from July 2011 to March 2016.

“We’ve talked to the communities to ask about their most pressing needs, and—from 2013 to 2015—have funded a total of 1,133 poverty reduction projects in ARMM, totaling P2.60 billion. These projects include the provision of livelihood opportunities, potable water supply, medicine, and shelter assistance,” the President said.

A more transparent government also resulted to more investors coming to the region, he said. With the use of the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System website in publishing all bid notices, BOI-ARMM approved investments in the region have increased from P87.9 million in 2010, to P6.58 billion in 2015 alone.

From 2010 to 2015, total investments amounted to P14.3 billion, according to the President.

He told the attendees of the book launch that there will be more good news if the country continue along the road to a true and lasting peace.

“This is the right path. It is a path that has benefited those in the margins; and it is a path that heals the fractures within the country we share,” he said.

“And the message that we now send to our countrymen is: We must continue along this path.”

Thursday’s book launch tells the journey that the government has taken in the past six years, fully aware that the journey is ongoing—that there are more challenges that both sides must overcome.

The President said he is hopeful that the the book will remind Filipinos of the successes that the country has enjoyed by talking peace noting it may also stand as an enduring symbol of the country’s restored faith in one another.

“I truly believe that our combined efforts can bring about a Mindanao—and a Philippines—that is free from conflict, one that we can be proud to bequeath to future generations,” he said. PND (as)

President Aquino to lead 118th celebration of Philippine Independence
President Benigno S. Aquino III will lead the celebration of the 118th anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine Independence on Sunday.

At 8 a.m. on June 12, President Aquino will lead the flag-raising and wreath-laying rites at the Rizal Monument in Rizal Park, Manila.

In Malacañang Palace, the Chief Executive will hold the traditional morning reception or Vin d’Honneur for the diplomatic corps.

The theme of this year’s celebration is “Kalayaan 2016: Pagkakaisa, Pag-aambagan, Pagsulong.”

In a statement issued on Friday, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said simultaneous commemorative rites will be held in key cities nationwide, including in Kawit, Cavite; Malolos, Bulacan; Angeles, Pampanga; Davao City; Cebu City; and several other parts of Metro Manila.

He said the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), in partnership with other participating government agencies, has also lined up commemorative activities leading up to Sunday’s celebration.

These include the Balik-Tanaw cultural heritage tour at the Pasig River, cultural performances at the Paco Park and Rizal Park, simultaneous job fairs nationwide, trade fairs, and public exhibits.

“We enjoin our nation to participate in these commemorative activities and celebrate the freedom that our forefathers have fought hard for,” Secretary Coloma said.

The Philippine Information Agency, in a statement, announced that there will be a “Mga Pampamahalaang Programa at Serbisyo”,

where various national government agencies will showcase their respective services to the public at the Burnham Green in Rizal Park.

The Department of Labor and Employment will also offer some 15,000 foreign and 7,000 local job opportunities in a simultaneous nationwide job fair.

The Department of Health, on the other hand, will conduct medical, dental and optical services.

The Department of Transportation and Communications will offer free Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) rides on June 12 from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., while the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority will offer free Pasig River ferry rides from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Basic commodities and school supplies will be sold at discounted prices by the Department of Trade and Industry in its Diskwento Caravan.

The NCHP will also sell its publications at discounted rates at the Kalayaan Book Sale.

The Department of Agriculture meanwhile will hold an Agri-Aqua Fair and Exhibit, Techno-Demo on Food Processing, and Rolling Storesu (NFA Rice), as well as distribute free agricultural information materials and vegetable seeds and seedlings.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ current capabilities and equipment will be showcased in a static display that will be conducted along with the Philippine National Police and Philippine Coast Guard.

A light and sound presentation, “Martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal”, will be held by the National Parks Development Committee at the Light & Sound Complex in Rizal Park. PND (kt)

Climate Change Commission urges finance sector to do away with coal projects
Climate Change Commission (CCC) vice chair, Secretary Emmanuel de Guzman, on Thursday encouraged international financial institutions to help the government promote the shift to clean energy by doing away with financing coal energy projects.

Secretary de Guzman made the call during the plenary session of the Asia Clean Energy Forum 2016 held at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Headquarters in Mandaluyong City, where representatives of various government agencies in charge of climate change and international organizations tackled Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in Asia Pacific.

The NDCs outline climate mitigation and adaptation actions that will be implemented beyond 2020.

De Guzman underscored that while the Philippines has been holding community-level consultations for the effective implementation of NDCs, the private sector plays an important role in the shift to clean energy.

“We look at ADB as the leader in the finance sector. I guess you have to play a major role also in sensitizing the finance sector in the country. We have an enormous and daunting task and we are employing all the effective means that we believe can effect change efficiently and quickly to transform the nation into a new economy,” he said.

“Green growth, green jobs, but there are still financial institutions funding coal power plant constructions. What can ADB do to sensitize the finance leaders in the country to once and for all stop financing dirty fuel, energy production and generation, and leapfrog and consider new technologies and forget the old, archaic, and antiquated technology of dirty fossil-based fuel?” he asked.

Just recently, President Benigno S. Aquino III signed a CCC resolution allowing the commission to conduct a comprehensive review of the government’s energy policy to pave the way for a swift transition to renewable and sustainable energy.

Under the resolution, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Energy, and the National Economic Development Authority are urged to harmonize policies and regulations on new and existing coal-fired power plants and assess their impacts on the environment, as well as include low-carbon development and climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies in the formulation of all national and local development plans.

The CCC resolution is an affirmation of the government’s resolve to mainstream low-carbon development pathway in accordance with the country’s commitment under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its intended nationally determined contribution (INDC).

“Those who are still planning to invest in coal, I hope they will not pursue [this] because they should get the signal clearly that it’s inevitably renewable energy (RE),” de Guzman told reporters after the plenary discussion.

“The wave of change cannot be stopped. It’s inevitable. There’s no turning back,” he said. PND (ka)