25 June 2015

President Aquino opens Livestock Expo
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday encouraged participants of the Livestock Philippines 2015 Expo and Conference “to fully explore the possibilities and to look for opportunities” to develop a more robust livestock industry in the country.

“It is only through the help of the stakeholders in this room that we can sustain the growth of this industry, as well as the quality of our livestock and poultry. This is why I encourage all of you to make the most of this opportunity: to continue sharing your ideas and best practices towards creating a livestock industry, and consequently, a Philippines that we can be proud to bequeath to future generations,” President Aquino said after opening the expo at the SMX Conference Center in Pasay City.

Also gracing the opening of the exhibition were Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Agriculture Undersecretary for Livestock Jose Reano, United Business Media’s President Muthiah Gandhi, and SMX General Manager Dexter Deyto.

More than 200 brands of meat products from 18 countries are joining the Livestock Philippines 2015, a three-day event hosted by the Department of Agriculture and its attached agencies, the Bureau of Animal Industry, and the National Meat Inspection Service.

In his speech, President Aquino highlighted the government’s initiatives on food safety.

“As you know, the Philippines has been performing very well in terms of food safety. Our country has been free from Avian Flu since 2005, and of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) since 2010. These achievements alone make us eligible to export meat,” he said.

“On top of this, however, just last month, the World Organization for Animal Health accorded us the highest level of recognition as a country free from FMD without vaccination, which further increases our competitiveness,” he said, adding that only three other ASEAN countries could boast of this recognition.

The goal now, he said, is not only to maintain these standards, but also to ensure that the country’s livestock sector continues to grow.

President Aquino further noted that the government has invested a lot in livestock and poultry.

“Over the course of our term, we have increased the budget of this sector by 108 percent. This has given us the wherewithal to increase focus on animal health by providing vaccinations and undertaking disease surveillance, among other measures, to control, if not eradicate, these animal diseases,” he explained.

The Chief Executive also mentioned that key legislation have been passed to promote food safety.

“With the help of allies from Congress, we amended the Meat Inspection Code, which imposes stricter fines for food safety violations, perhaps most prominently the transport or sale of the so-called ‘hot meat’. There is also the Food Safety Act of 2013, which strengthens our food regulatory system to better protect consumer health and facilitate our food exports,” he said.

“As we have taken deliberate measures to improve the safety and security of our food supply, it is also necessary to find ways to maximize the benefits of our eligibility as a meat exporter. This is why the Department of Agriculture is pursuing two large scale projects that will help us in this regard, namely, the AAA poultry dressing plant project in Bamban, Tarlac, worth P120 million, and the AAA slaughterhouse project in Tanauan, Batangas, worth P150 million. Both of these projects are expected to be completed within the year,” he further said.

Livestock Philippines 2015 also features the first ASEAN Food Conference in connection with the recently implemented ASEAN Economic Cooperation (AEC). Delegates from 10 ASEAN member states are expected to discuss the present challenges and opportunities of the AEC.

Carrying the theme “Farm-to-Shelf”, the Livestock Philippines Expo and Conference will also hold the Feeds Expo, Food Processing and Packaging Expo, and PhilMeat Expo and Technical Seminar.

Feeds Expo will focus on animal feeds and feed ingredients, additives, supplements and premixes, feed quality control and feed manufacturing; Food Processing and Packaging Expo will showcase the newest trends on food processing, ingredients and packaging; while PhilMeat will present the latest innovations on meat processing and packaging. PND (jm)

President Aquino says he wants to focus on governing, does not want to be distracted by politics
With barely more than a year before his term ends, President Benigno S. Aquino III said he does not want to be distracted by politics at this point in time, as he is focused on ensuring that the country’s development continues.

In an interview at the SMX Convention Center after opening the Livestock Philippines 2015 Expo and Conference on Thursday, the President said he was surprised at Vice President Jejomar Binay’s tirade on Wednesday but said this is not unexpected and that he and his Cabinet will respond to it point by point.

“Either I, or the specific Cabinet secretaries, will also respond to it,” the President said when asked about his response to Vice President Binay’s allegations.

“I have about 370 days or so remaining (in office), ‘yung interes ko ay ma-maximize lahat ng opportunities para sa ating taumbayan, patakbuhin itong bansang ito.”

He noted that unlike those jockeying for political positions in next year’s elections, he does not have the luxury to engage in politics at the moment.

“Ako ay may responsibilidad na pagandahin lalo itong lipunan nating ito, itong bansa nating ito at hindi ako papayag na madi-distract ang atensyon natin sa paghahalo sa usapang pulitika, na palagay ko naman klarong-klaro sa taumbayan kung sino ang nagsasabi ng tama at mali.”

The President said Vice President Binay’s resignation came as a surprise to him.

He said he could not understand why the vice president is attacking him when in fact, he gave the latter every opportunity to prevent him from becoming a “spare tire”.

“Iyong pinagkasunduan namin, ‘yung assignment niya na housing, hinirit niyang idagdag ‘yung OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers), at lahat ito ay ipinagkaloob natin sa kanya, ‘yung pagkakataon na manatili ang kanyang popularity ratings,” he explained.“Bagama’t hindi natin siya kaalyado ‘nung tumakbo sa eleksyon, bagama’t ‘nung 2013 e nandun siya sa kabilang grupo, hindi natin siya parang pinigilan na magkaroon naman ng pagkakataon na ma-recognize ang kanyang trabaho.”

The Chief Executive further said that he wonders why the vice president has kept his views on improving the country’s conditions to himself, while he was serving as a member of the Cabinet.

“After nang statement niya kahapon, tila marami siyang kinikimkim na mga sekreto para mapaganda sa pagpapatakbo nitong bansang ito. Palagay ko may obligasyon siya bilang miyembro ng Gabinete na ibahagi ito,” he said.

“Pero siguro maganda na rin kapag itatanong ninyo sa akin, ‘Bakit hindi niya ibinahagi?’ e palagay ko siya na lang ang tanungin niyo. Kung may maitutulong ka sa ikakabuti ng taumbayan na pinangakuan nating paglilingkuran, bakit mo naman isinisikreto?”

The President acknowledged that the vice president has been his family’s ally even before the EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986, and that he remained supportive of the Cory Aquino government, including during the series of coup attempts that her administration had gone through.

“Ngayon, siguro ganyan talaga ang pulitika sa ating bansa. Baka naman napag-isip siyang hindi siya ang ma-e-endorso natin, so kailangan ipakita niyang hindi niya kailangan ‘yung endorsement o may mas maganda siyang kayang magawa,” the President said. PND (as)

Politicking will not affect business sector’s confidence in the economy, says Palace official
Malacañang on Thursday expressed confidence that politicking, especially as the presidential election nears, will not undermine the business community’s confidence in the economy.

“Ang sektor na pangangalakal ay nagbabatay ng desisyon sa economic fundamentals,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in response to a question on the possible effects on the business sector of Vice President Jejomar Binay’s criticisms of President Benigno S. Aquino III’s administration.

“Dahil mainam ang pagtaya dito ng international at local business community, hindi natitinag ng mga usaping pampulitika ang kanilang kumpiyansa sa pambansang ekonomiya sa ilalim ng Aquino administration,” he added.

Following his resignation from his Cabinet posts, Vice President Jejomar Binay delivered a speech on Wednesday, criticizing the Aquino administration’s programs and policies.

President Aquino on Thursday countered that he does not want to be distracted from running the government and ensuring the country’s continued development but said he and his Cabinet secretaries would respond to the vice president’s criticisms point by point. PND (ag)