26 November 2016

Gov’t Prepares for Christmas Season Traffic; Steps up Anti-smuggling Campaign
Christmas is a still a month away, and already, at this time, the government is making preparations to counter the worsening traffic situation in the Metropolis which is expected to worsen during the Yuletide season.

Metro Manila Development Authority officer-in–charge Thomas Orbos today said that the government is looking at ways and means to decongest traffic as he noted that there is an increase of 30% in traffic congestion during the season.

At a press briefing in Malacañan on Friday, Nov. 25, Orbos said the main issue surrounding the MMDA is traffic. The MMDA has been tasked by the Interagency Council on Traffic, of which it is a member, to try and look for ways and means to help decongest traffic in the short term.

The MMDA head mentioned some of the short term projects which his agency has implemented for the past three months.

“Primarily, we have implemented the no-windows hours along major roads. This is an addition to the current number coding that we had and this includes the major roads, such as EDSA, C5, Recto, Quirino Avenue, Araneta, C6, Roxas Boulevard, Taft Avenue, SLEX, Shaw Boulevard, Ortigas Avenue, Magsaysay, Aurora, Quezon Avenue, Commonwealth Avenue, A. Bonifacio, Rizal Avenue, Del Pan, Marcos Highway, MacArthur Highway, Alabang-Zapote Road, Samson Road, and A. Mabini Street,” he said.

Orbos said that since this was implemented, the speed especially at EDSA, has been shortened by at least 10 minutes.

“We started this about a month ago and despite the influx or the expected traffic congestion nearing Christmas, we have maintained the 10-minute up speed travel time,” he said.

The traffic official said in his talks to Secretary Arthur Tugade, the MMDA has also started making discussions, consultations with the stakeholders in the hope of reducing traffic.

“We have talked to mall owners and adjusted mall hours from 11 Am to 11 PM starting Nov.1, 2016. We also asked them not to implement anymore any weekday sale which we know, has been always the cause traffic, especially on a Friday, on a payday, you would have mall sales,” said Orbos.

He also said that they made representations with the utility companies and even with the Department of Public Works and Highways to ask them to have a moratorium on road repair which began on Nov.1 and will last up to January 9.

The MMDA OIC also said that instead of private villages they have asked several government properties to open up their routes and they started this with Camp Aguinaldo which will ease the traffic coming from Katipunan and Marikina going to EDSA.

At the same press briefing in Malacanan, Ret. Col. Neil Anthony Estrella, acting Customs Spokesperson, gave an update on the Bureau’s activities, particularly on enforcement operations with emphasis on their anti-smuggling campaign.

He said the bureau, for the month of November, seized various counterfeit products in Pasay City, Bulacan and Pangasinan areas totaling to about Php 775 million.

Estrella revealed the tough stance of the bureau against smuggling which deprives the government of additional revenue collections. BOC will remain tough against smuggling. And as the country improves its maritime capability, the government will pursue the smugglers to the farthest borders of the country.

The Bureau has confiscated around Php1.173 billion worth of various kinds of illegal drugs in different operations which was conducted from July to mid-November in support of the government’s war against illegal drugs. Confiscated illegal drugs included Php 927 million worth of shabu obtained in 11 operations, Php17 million worth of ecstasy obtained in follow up operations and Php 227.7 million worth of cocaine obtained in eight operations.

For the month of October 2016, Customs generated revenue collection of Php 33.365 billion. This is Php 39 million higher compared to the amount collected for the month of September 2016 said the spokesman.

Meanwhile for the first 15 days of November, the BOC has already reached 52% of its Php36.495 billion assessed target. The bureau has so far collected Php18.9 billion and is expected to surpass for November given these indicators.

At the same press conference, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella denied that the President’s order for all military to stay in their camps is some kind of loyalty check for them not to join any public protest.

“That is exactly the opposite, I think. He trusts the public to be able to handle themselves properly and he is allowing for them a democratic protest,” Secretary Abella said.###PND

FOI Passage: A Step in the Right Direction
The Duterte administration fulfilled yet another milestone. Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar formally introduced the People’s Freedom of Information (FOI) Manual in a ceremony held at the Heroes Hall in Malacañan on November 25, 2016.A mere campaign promise by past administrations, the FOI program had been accomplished in just a matter of weeks by the Duterte administration.

“For this, we would like to congratulate all agencies that have worked to implement the Freedom of Information. The average time to implement the FOI program is one year for some developed countries. Our agencies were asked to prepare the People’s FOI Manual in 120 days,” Andanar said whose office, the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), oversees the implementation and operationalization of the FOI program.
The FOI is the government’s response to the call for full public disclosure of information. The Executive Branch is at the forefront in responding to the public clamor for transparency in the meanwhile that the Senate and House of Representatives are working on enacting the FOI into law.

The FOI mechanism for the Executive Branch is empowered via Executive Order (EO) No. 2 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on July 23, 2016.

“The Duterte Administration deems EO No.2 as a way to resolve problems. It is not a way to lure support or a window dressing to the growing corruption problem in the country. FOI has been established because the government seeks real change,” Andanar explained.
To compliment the FOI Manual, an electronic platform called eFOI was, concurrently, launched. Communications Assistant Secretary Kristian Ablan conducted the presentation of FOI’s online version.

The eFOI serves as an added service meant to harmonize open data to lessen frontline workloads and request turnaround time. Again, the Philippines is ahead of other developed countries in rolling out an electronic platform of the FOI, Ablan said.
The future of FOI will depend not only upon the government, but also upon the people who use it. “It is the duty of citizens to maximize the right to information to check on their government,” the Communications chief said.
“This is a triumphant day for the nation, yet we have a long way to go, to create a system in which information is easily access from the government without detriments or inefficiencies,” Andanar added.

“But today is the day we take the first few steps in the right direction,” Andanar concluded.###MARO-CONTENT

Duterte extends help to wounded soldiers 
President Rodrigo Duterte arrived in Jolo on Friday, Nov. 25 to visit and extend assistance to wounded soldiers fighting the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sulu.

The President arrived at Camp Teodulfo Bautista Station Hospital 2 p.m. and talked to the 13 wounded soldiers confined at the military hospital. He also met the families of the soldiers killed and injured in the Sulu fighting.

Duterte handed over P100,000 special financial assistance (SFA), additional P10,000 cash to each of the 13 injured infantrymen.

The families of those killed in combat, who were also present, were also given P250,000 special financial assistance (SFA) and additional P20,000 cash.

All the wounded and the kin of those killed also received additional financial assistance from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which was handed over by the President.

The injured soldiers, admitted at the hospital last November 18, were 2nd Lt. John Paul Bacsain, Ssg. Abdunnur Said, Cpl. Arasad Kahil, Sgt. Ramon Medel, Cpl. Julius Montealto, Cpl. Jeffrey Barino, Cpl. Saldi Sabdani, Cpl. Luisito Bago, Pfc. Alizon Ayoman, Ssg. Aasam Abdulmajid, Sgt. Danny Sakiri, Pfc. Jurich Givero, and Pfc. Muhaliddin Mariga.

Those killed in action were Sgt. Sikal Akjam, Sgt. Abrojer Sakili, and Pvt. Joel Decierdo, Cpl. Ronnie Navarro.

The same day, the President flew to Zamboanga in the afternoon to visit soldiers wounded in action in Sulu at the Camp Don Basilio Navarro General Hospital inside the Western Mindanao Command Headquarters.

Duterte personally awarded P100,000 special financial assistance (SFA), additional P10,000 and a Glock 30 pistol for each of the 9 soldiers wounded in action.

In the press conference that followed, President Duterte reiterated his call for peace not only with the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed component, the New People’s Army (NPA); the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF); the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) but also the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

“I can be nasty. I can do an all-out war and invade the Island but there will be huge losses pati civilians which is really what matters most,” said President Duterte as he stressed his authority as Chief Executive. But said that he would not resort to it because he is more concerned about the civilians and worried about huge casualties such an action may inflict upon the local populace.
“What matters most are the civilians. Would it bring us peace if we use force?” the President asked.

President Duterte also emphasized that it is only hatred that would be gained if he committed to an escalation of the war against the Abu Sayyaf Group.
Instead of intensifying military operations, the President prefers building hospitals in Sulu. “Ako na mismo ang magtingin na magkaroon ng ospital na maayos,” the President said.###PND