02 March 2015

Infrastructure partnership, major agenda in APEC meeting in Tagaytay
Delegates of member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) will meet at the Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay City on Wednesday, March 4 for the Asia-Pacific Infrastructure Partnership Dialogue 2015.

During the meeting, delegates will discuss emerging trends and issues on urban infrastructure and financing, get an overview of the Urban Infrastructure Network, and review the urban infrastructure issues being encountered by Philippine government agencies.

They are expected to focus on specific infrastructure sectors in the Philippines, such as transport and energy, and discuss achievements and challenges in building urban infrastructure in the country.

They are also expected to tackle private sector participation in financing urban infrastructure, including the steps to be undertaken to facilitate future collaboration between the private and public sectors. PND (as)

Malta’s Prince arrives in Manila for seven-day visit
The Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta Fra’ Matthew Festing arrived in Manila on Sunday night for a seven-day official visit to the Philippines.

Fra’ Festing’s airplane touched down at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 10:10 p.m. There to welcome him were Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino, Pasay City Mayor Antonino Calixto, and Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Jose Angel Honrado.

“Ang pagbisita ng kanyang Most Eminent Highness Festing ay inaasahang ibayong makapagpapatibay ng relasyong diplomatiko sa pagitan ng Pilipinas at ng Sovereign Order of Malta simula nang ito ay maitatag may limang dekada na ang lumilipas. Si Fra’ Festing ang ikalawang Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta na bumisita sa bansa kasunod ni Fra’ Angelo de Mojana di Cologna noong Pebrero 1979,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. earlier said during a radio interview.

Fra’ Festing will make a courtesy call on President Benigno S. Aquino III on Tuesday, March 3 to present a symbolic key representing Malta’s donation of 700 core shelters to the Philippines. Of the 700 units, 540 have been completed, 64 are being built, and 96 will be finished by May.

“Ang Sovereign Order of Malta, sa pamamagitan ng kanilang international assistance arm na Malteser International, ay matagal nang nagkakaloob ng iba’t ibang uri ng tulong sa Pilipinas sa mga partikular na aspeto ng health care, hygiene intervention, feeding programs, provision of food supplements at medical supplies, at disaster relief and rehabilitation,” Coloma said.

On Thursday, March 5, Fra’ Festing will visit Basey, Samar to personally check the 350 core shelters donated by his country. Basey was reduced to ruins by Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013. PND (ag)

Palace still hopeful Bangsamoro Basic Law will be passed during President Aquino’s term
The Palace has acknowledged the delay in the timetable of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) but remains hopeful that it will be passed during the term of President Benigno S. Aquino III.

“We (administration) do not see ourselves looking at the BBL being passed by the next administration. This is an important piece of legislation,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters during a press briefing in Malacañang on Monday.

Secretary Lacierda was commenting on reports that Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has said that the BBL could wait until the next administration.

He noted that the Mamasapano incident has certainly upset the timetable but insisted that the peace process must continue, saying that the peace negotiations were “sometimes hard.”

“I was present in some of the negotiations and to say that Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Deles is speaking for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) or the Chairperson of the government peace panel Mirriam Ferrer is speaking for the MILF, is grossly unfair. We fought for what we believe should be proper. And as peacemakers, you look at the common ground but you also look at the interest of the country,” he said.Describing the peace process as an “uphill climb once again,” Lacierda said that the country must not be deterred in seeking lasting peace in Mindanao.

“So we ask Congress: Look into the law itself. Find ways to make sure that what we have crafted would be bigger than the Mamasapano incident. It is difficult, yes. Lives were lost in Mamasapano and we certainly grieve for the loss of the 44 commandos. But we have to look into the fruit… Let us give (them) honor by making sure that peace will continue in Mindanao,” he said. PND (ag)

Energy, transport departments being consulted on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, Official says
The Philippines is determined to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions with the help of such government agencies as the Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

Commissioner and Vice Chairperson of the Philippines’ Climate Change Commission, Secretary Mary Ann Lucille Sering, said there have been talks with the two agencies regarding the effects of emissions on global warming.

“Most of our emissions are coming from the energy sector and transport,” Sering told reporters during a press briefing in Malacañang on Monday.

She said that aside from the DOE and DOTC, the Department of Agriculture and the National Economic Development Authority are also being consulted for inputs on climate change issues.

Sering said the Philippines will submit its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) during the United Nations Climate Conference to be hosted by France in December.

The 2015 Paris Conference aims, for the first time in more than 20 years of UN negotiations, to come up with a binding and universal agreement on climate.

Last week, French President François Hollande arrived in the country to campaign for the protection of the planet Earth and promote the climate change forum in Paris.

President Hollande also visited Eastern Samar where he met with the people from Guiuan, which was devastated by Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

Sering noted that the French leader picked the Philippines to be one of the countries “that he felt would be very important to the (Paris) talks.”

She further said that Hela Cheikrouhou, head of the Green Climate Fund, which is handling an estimated US$10 billion that is now eligible for developing countries, joined President Hollande during the Guiuan trip.

In 2009, Denmark hosted a climate change conference, which marked the culmination of a two-year negotiating process to enhance international climate change cooperation under the Bali Roadmap launched in December 2007. PND (jm)

Operations at Port of Manila now normal, says Office of the Cabinet Secretary
The Office of the Cabinet Secretary has announced that the Port of Manila has already been decongested as of February.

“We are pleased to report that operations at the port of Manila have been completely normalized and congestion has been resolved,” the office said in a statement read by Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda during a press briefing in Malacañang on Monday.

The office noted that this is the result of the combined efforts of the Cabinet Cluster on Port Decongestion, the Technical Working Group of various agencies, and the cooperation of the private sector.

“Over the past three weeks, the ships with berthing schedules were accommodated accordingly. For ships that arrived unscheduled, they were able to dock within 24 to 60 hours from arrival. Since November 2014, more cargos have been moved at a faster rate than prior to the congestion. By February 2015, the benefits of a fully decongested port is in place,” it said.

According to the Office of the Cabinet Secretary, from a high of 105 percent utilization rate during the height of the truck ban in May 2014, to the present 79 percent to 84 percent utilization rates, the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. and Asian Terminals Inc. have shown improved efficiency, as ports are maximized to facilitate the flow of trade and cargo.

It said decongestion at the port of Manila took longer than expected due to some factors that complicated the matter.

“Although most of the solutions were implemented early in the last quarter of 2014, the sheer volume of the backlog needed several months to be resolved. The long Christmas holidays, Typhoon ‘Amang,’ the feast of the Black Nazarene and the Pope’s visit, all constricted the movements and extended the period of resolution,” the office stated.

The Office of the Cabinet Secretary thanked the Metro Manila Development Authority, all the local government units, government agencies and stakeholders involved in resolving the port congestion. PND (ag)