28 March 2015

President Aquino issues guidelines to ensure public safety, order during Holy Week 
President Benigno S. Aquino III has instructed concerned government agencies to ensure public safety and comfort in view of the annual exodus of people who will spend Holy Week in the provinces.“Tiyakin ang kaligtasan at ginhawa ng mga mamamayan sa kanilang paglalakbay sa darating na Semana Santa — iyan ang mahalagang tagubilin ni Pangulong Aquino sa lahat ng mga ahensya ng pamahalaan,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said on Friday.

The President’s directive told agencies to ensure order in major bus terminals, seaports and airports, Secretary Coloma said.

“Iniutos din niyang bigyan ng mabilis na pagtugon ang mga pangangailanan ng mga mamamayan sa pamamagitan ng pagtatatag ng mga public assistance desks sa mga terminal na inaasahang dadagsain ng libu-libong pasaherong maglalakbay,” he added.

The President specifically instructed the Toll Regulatory Board to ensure that motorists pass the major expressways with ease and to prevent long queues of vehicles at the toll gates.

He also wants the Department of Transportation of Communications (DOTC) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to make sure that there are enough buses to avoid overloading, and that only legitimate buses ply their intended routes, Coloma said.

The DOTC, Coast Guard and airport authorities must ensure that piers and airports are orderly, that safety devices are in place, and that public assistance centers or desks are available to help passengers, Coloma said.

The President further directed the DOTC and the Coast Guard to see to it that only passengers listed in the manifest of ships could board, and that all ships servicing different destinations must be seaworthy.

Coloma further said that the Department of Public Works and Highways must make certain that roads are passable and in good condition, and that repairs must be completed to avoid traffic congestion.

Public assistance centers should be set up in strategic locations to help motorists encountering problems, and the police must carry out measures to maintain peace and order, he said.

He noted that the President instructed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to be on alert to immediately respond to any emergency, such as accidents, fires, and crimes; and the Metro Manila police to intensify Oplan Lambat Sibat to prevent crimes.

Moreover, the President ordered health authorities and personnel to be ready to respond to road accidents, illnesses that arise during summer, and other emergencies.

The President also wants the Department of Energy to ensure a steady supply of electricity during the Holy Week.

President Aquino is advising the public to exercise extra caution while on the road, follow traffic rules and guidelines, control their temper, bring first-aid kits and medicines, and secure their homes before leaving, Coloma said. PND (as)

Palace asks Filipinos to participate in Earth Hour; adopt the practice every day
The Palace is encouraging the public to participate in this year’s Earth Hour from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday (March 28) to conserve energy, hoping that Filipinos would adopt the practice on a daily basis.

“Every year that this is commemorated, we see more and more people participating, but beyond the shutting of your lights from 8:30 to 9:30 tonight, we hope that we continue to do more on a daily basis to be able to conserve energy,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview on Saturday.

Adopting the practice is timely, as power shortage looms in Luzon this summer, Valte told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

“We appeal to everyone to do his or her own little share in conserving energy, not only because it saves you money on your electricity bill, but it also contributes to the general well-being of everyone when it comes to our environmental situation,” she said.

Valte said she hopes it would become everyone’s habit to turn off lights and appliances that are not in use.

There are many ways Filipinos could participate in energy conservation, she said, noting that this year’s Earth Hour would be a good start.

“Let us not limit our participation to energy conservation to one hour a year,” she emphasized.

Malacañang has been asking Congress to grant it special powers to address the possible power shortage in Luzon this summer.

In the meantime, the government has already begun carrying out measures to ensure enough power supply in Luzon, including making sure that main power plants are working efficiently, and scheduling maintenance shutdowns properly to avoid supply disruptions.

The private sector has also committed to contribute by producing its own electricity to ease the burden on main electricity grids.

The government has also appealed to the public to observe simple energy-saving tips at home. PND (as)

Palace defends creation of citizens’ council on the Bangsamoro Law
The Palace has defended the organization of a National Peace Summit, announced by President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday, arguing that it is not intended to override the work of Congress in crafting the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

In a radio interview on Saturday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the intention is for the public to understand the peace process and the BBL.

Through the peace summit, the public can provide inputs to the BBL so that in the end, a more refined Bangsamoro law could be crafted by Congress, Valte told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

The Palace official also commented on a statement made by Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel that the review of the citizens’ council on the BBL would not have any impact on the Congressional deliberations on the Bangsamoro law.

“Certainly, your senators will act and comport themselves as they see fit,” Valte said. “But it also contributes to the public discourse when there is a space wherein people can discuss and debate the issue of BBL without disinformation, without misinformation, and that contributes to the understanding of the BBL, as well.”

The intention is not to replace the legislative process but to provide an avenue for discussions on the BBL in a rational and calm manner, so that improvements can be made, Valte said.

“So, nasa sa mga senador na po natin ‘yan kung pakikinggan din nila ang boses ng mga citizen leaders na bubuo dito sa summit,” she added.

Valte further said that the citizens’ council was created, not to supplant Congress and override the legislative process that the BBL has to undergo, but to create an opportunity for well-respected community leaders to come together and discuss the BBL.

In the end, she said, the body could propose ways to move forward.

Doubts on the passage of the BBL, as well as on the sincerity of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), have heightened following the Mamasapano incident last January 25, which resulted in the death of 44 police commandos, 18 MILF fighters, and several civilians.

There are fears that the incident would derail the passage of the BBL, which is already behind schedule.

President Aquino said on Friday that he has invited citizen leaders known for their wisdom and integrity to stand as independent convenors, among them Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr., Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Howard Dee, and Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman.

He said they will gather other responsible and respected leaders to spearhead a National Peace Summit to deliberate on and discuss the BBL “in a calm and reasonable manner that will not incite anger and hopelessness,” with the end in view of improving the law.

“They will write a report that will be made public, so that everyone may be informed, and so that more of our countrymen may understand the matter. In this manner, we will be able to advance a reasonable decision as regards the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” the President said. PND (as)

Philippine government exhausting all means to save Filipina from Indonesian death row
The government is doing everything it can to save a Filipina who has been sentenced to die in Indonesia after she was caught transporting illegal narcotics into the country, a Palace official said on Saturday.

“Ginagawa naman po ng ating pamahalaan ang ating magagawa within the legal framework of Indonesia to be able to push for her case,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview aired over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

“As Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has already said, the Philippines will continue to push other legal avenues to help her case,” Valte said.

Mary Jane Veloso, 30, has been sentenced to die by firing squad in Indonesia after she was apprehended at the Yogyakarta Airport in April 2010 for carrying 2.6 kilograms of heroin in her luggage.

Her family has insisted that the drug seized from Veloso’s luggage was secretly put there by a relative.

Veloso’s relatives in the Philippines were recently saddened by Indonesia’s Supreme Court decision to reject the Philippine government’s request for a judicial review of her case in the hope of saving her from the death sentence.

Before the request for a judicial review, a plea for clemency had been previously dismissed.

A second appeal for judicial review is being considered, Secretary del Rosario has said, adding he is confident that there will be no execution within the next two weeks.

He said his department is doing everything possible to explore all other options. PND (as)