27 November 2015

President Aquino attends book launch of “The Aquino Legacy: An Enduring Narrative”
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday graced the launch of the book, “The Aquino Legacy: An Enduring Narrative” in Makati City.The book, written by Elfren Sicangco Cruz and Neni Sta. Romana Cruz, is a collection of historical accounts and commentaries, as well as human-interest essays, and is dedicated to the youth to help them understand the lessons of Martial Law and the struggle to restore democracy.

“The ‘past’ chronicled in the book we are launching today includes events significant to our country’s history: the dark days of Martial Law, for example, as well as the challenges my mother faced in restoring and safeguarding democracy after the Filipino people won the country back from the iron fist of the dictator,” President Aquino said.

“Everyone here also knows that there are many different accounts of what happened. Those who were left-leaning at that point in time have documentation of their own struggles. Those who were once part of the regime have also released their version of what took place at the time. Here, we have an alternative account, one that is inextricable from the life of our family,” he said.

President Aquino noted that the book was written with its personal bias or viewpoint, based from the title of the book alone.

“All accounts of history are written with the personal biases and views of the authors. What is truly important is the fact that we are adding to the body of knowledge available at this point: we are making sure that no single person is able to dictate history, and consequently, influence the thinking of Filipinos. We are making sure that the whole picture is available, as opposed to what can only be called propaganda,” he said.

President Aquino said the book is meant to remind present generations of how millions of Filipinos took a stand against the dictatorship.

“My parents are perhaps the most prominent examples of that. As such, by its very nature, this book will be an intensely personal read. In documenting the events that shaped our nation, so too does it provide a closer look at our family—at the normal lives we tried to lead in spite of extremely extraordinary circumstances, and at the lessons and principles that continue to guide us to this day,” he said.

In his message, the President also lauded the authors of the book, whom he said are among those who have stood by his family “sa hirap at sa ginhawa”.

“It is remarkable to see that you continue to work with the same love for country that you showed in the days when we were fighting for the freedom of the Philippines,” he said.

“It is my sincere hope that your efforts will bear fruit: that this book will be a jumping-off point for Filipinos, especially those from the younger generation: that they will be encouraged to learn from the past, and consequently, to do their part in ensuring that the country can look forward to a far brighter future,” he added.

During the launch, President Aquino was presented with the first copy of the book.

Also present at the event were Education Secretary Armin Luistro and Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. PND (co)

Philippines claims China’s reclamation activities threaten marine environment
The Philippines on Thursday criticized China for its reclamation activities in the disputed West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), which has posed a significant threat to the marine environment.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said Professor Kent Carpenter assessed the damage of China’s island building activities to the coral reef eco-system as “close to catastrophic”.

“Carpenter drew the conclusion that China’s actions have caused grave harm to the environment in the South China Sea due to its artificial island building activities, and that the damage to the complex coral reef ecosystem is close to catastrophic,” Valte said in a bulletin issued from The Hague, Netherlands on Thursday.

Carpenter was one of two expert witnesses presented by the Philippines to the Arbitral Tribunal on the third day of the hearings on the Philippines’ case against China.

Carpenter is a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

The other expert witness was Clive Schofield, current director of Research and Security at the University of Wollongong in Australia.

The Philippines’ principal counsel, Paul Reichler, described Carpenter and Schofield as independent experts who were presented to give their own analyses based on their areas of specialization.

Valte said Professor Schofield presented his findings on 47 features requested by the Tribunal to be studied to determine whether they are insular, low tide, or high tide elevations. The Australian expert also presented Landsat images of the Scarborough Shoal at high tide and low tide.

During the same hearing, Valte said Professor Alan Boyle presented to the Tribunal the damage China has done to the marine ecosystem, more specifically, to the complex ecosystem of coral reefs, biological diversity, and living resources in the South China Sea.

“Boyle stated that, if unchecked, China’s activities will continue to pose a significant threat to the marine environment of the South China Sea and of all the states which border the sea,” said the Palace official.

She said Boyle argued that China has violated its obligation under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to protect and preserve the marine environment.

He cited instances of harmful fishing practices, such as blast fishing, cyanide fishing, harvesting of giant clams, catching of turtles, and other endangered species.

Valte said Boyle also stressed that China, as a flag state, is responsible for its failure to prevent its fishermen and vessels from engaging in illegal fishing activities.

She said Boyle detailed to the Tribunal the series of near-collisions that occurred in April and May 2012 at the Scarborough Shoal involving Chinese Marine Service vessels and Philippine vessels.

“These incidents, according to Boyle, displayed China’s ‘deliberate disregard for international law’ on the safety of maritime vessels,” Valte said.

She said Professor Bernard Oxman meanwhile presented to the Tribunal other actions by China that aggravated and extended the dispute, even pending arbitration.

“Oxman cited instances where the Philippines was blocked by China from entering Second Thomas Shoal (Ayungin) for a resupply mission,” said Valte.

“Oxman stressed that China’s denial of access forms part of ‘a deliberate policy to physically expel the Philippines and its nationals’ from the disputed features and its surrounding waters,” she further said.

Thursday’s hearing marked the end of the First Round of Arguments for the Hearing on the Merits. The Second Round will begin on November 30. PND (jm)

President Aquino, sisters offer prayers for Ninoy on 83rd birthday
President Benigno S. Aquino III and his sisters offered prayers for their father, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., as the country commemorated the 83rd birth anniversary of the late senator on Friday.

President Aquino, together with Maria Elena “Ballsy” Aquino-Cruz and Victoria Elisa “Viel” Aquino-Dee, prayed the rosary before Ninoy’s tomb at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City.

Cruz’s husband, Eldon, was also present and took turns with his wife and Viel in praying the rosary.

President Aquino’s other two sisters Pinky and Kris were absent.

No other program was scheduled to commemorate Ninoy’s birthday.

Before leaving, President Aquino offered a moment of silent prayer before his father’s tomb, which was adorned with yellow flowers.

Born in 1932, Ninoy served as senator from 1967 to 1972.

A staunch critic of the dictatorial leadership of the late President Ferdinand Marcos, Ninoy was assassinated on August 21, 1983, at the Manila International Airport, upon his return from self-exile in the United States.

His death triggered several protest actions that led to the EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986, which toppled the Marcos regime and catapulted his widow, Corazon Aquino, to the presidency. PND (jb)

President Aquino appoints new TESDA Chief
President Benigno S. Aquino III has appointed Irene Isaac as the new head of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), replacing Joel Villanueva, who quit his post as TESDA chief to run for senator in next year’s elections.Malacañang on Friday also released the appointment papers of Leonida Bayani-Ortiz, Danilo Lachica and Paloma Pama, as members representing TESDA’s Employer Sector; Mary Go Ng and Fernando Tanseco, as members representing the Business and Investment Sector; and Bayani Diwa, as member representing the Labor Sector. They will serve for three years.

President Aquino likewise named Evan Garcia as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Prior to his appointment, Garcia held the position of Chief of Mission, Class 1 in the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The President also appointed Flordeliza Maria Reyes-Rayel and Marco David Nepomuceno as members representing the Employers Sector in Region 3 of the Department of Labor and Employment, for a term of five years. PND (jm)

President Aquino appoints new Associate Justices for Court of Appeals
President Benigno S. Aquino III has appointed Gabriel Robeniol and Geraldine Fiel-Macaraig as Associate Justices of the Court of Appeals. Robeniol took over Isaias Dicdican while Fiel-Macaraig replaced Rebecca de Guia-Salvador.

Malacañang on Friday also released the appointment papers of Paul Jagmis, Jr. of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 95 in Roxas, Palawan; Romeo Buenaventura of RTC Branch 59 in Lucena City, Quezon; Rudiger Falcis II of RTC Branch 16 in Cavite City, Cavite; Mary Charlene Villas Hernandez of RTC Branch 22 in Imus City, Cavite; Glenda Mendoza-Ramos of RTC Branch 36 in Calamba City, Laguna; Maria Luwalhati Carandang Cruz of the 4th Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) in Alfonso-General Aguinaldo, Cavite; May Hazel Medija Tagupa of the 2nd MCTC in Silang-Amadeo, Cavite; Liezel Rosario Santiago Mendoza of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) in Tagaytay City, Cavite; Ireneo Lustre of the MTCC in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna; Conrado Estreller, Jr. of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) in Cauayan, Negros Occidental; Mary Ann Charisma Gutierrez-Kho of the MTC in Hinobaan, Negros Occidental; Carmela Mae Mallada-Tunguia of the 12th MCTC in Cabatuan-Maasin, Iloilo; and Clarence Zerrudo of the 1st MCTC in Jordan-Nueva Valencia-Sibunag, Guimaras.

President Aquino also appointed Emmanuel Leido Caparas and Wendell Go as undersecretaries at the Department of Justice; and Marguerite Therese Lucila-Tesoro as undersecretary at the Office of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel. PND (jm)

Palace announces new batch of government appointments
President Benigno S. Aquino III has appointed new officials to various government positions that included new administrators of the National Food Authority (NFA) and National Tobacco Administration (NTA).

President Aquino named Zenen Renan Dalisay as NFA Council member and administrator, and Edgardo Zaragoza as NTA administrator, to serve until June 30, 2016.

Their appointment papers were signed on November 6.

The President also appointed three new Acting Directors III of the Department of Agriculture (DA), namely, Lucia Atienza Campomanes, Lorenzo Mamauag Caranguian, and Joel Azarcon Elumba. Sammy Angeles Malvas was also named as new Acting Director II of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

Malacañang likewise announced new appointments to various departments.

For the Department of Transportation and Communications, President Aquino named Jaime Fortunato Abat Caringal as Acting Assistant Secretary; Mohammad Nasser Canoy Abbas as Acting Director III; Herminio Estaniel, Jr. as Executive Director of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Office, Maritime Industry Authority; and Alfredo Haboc as Director IV.

For the Department of Finance, Alan Bornas and Reynauld Villafuerte were appointed as new members of the Board of Directors, LBP Resources and Development Corporation; and Danilo Reyes, Vaughn Montes and Mario Palou as new members of the Board of Directors, DBP Leasing Corporation.

President Aquino also designated Marcia Czarina Corazon Medina-Guce as member of the Governing Board, representing the private sector, National Nutrition Council, Department of Health; Karen Ida Alparce-Villanueva as member, Employers’ Sector Representative, Board of Directors, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation; and Lakshmi Irojo Legaspi as Acting Director IV, Department of Health.

Meanwhile, Nielex Causing Tupas was appointed as Executive Director of the National Youth Commission, and Felipe Santiago Ramiro, Jr. as Director IV of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Nerie Domingo Bueno was named Director IV, Department of Public Works and Highways; and Arnel Prado Rodriguez as Acting Director III and Noemi Alano Paranada as Acting Director II of the Environmental Management Bureau, Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

For the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Angelito Colmenares was named member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Negros Occidental; and Reynaldo Mayor Bungubung, Julie Julian Daquioag, James Ferranco Fadrilan and Marlo Lingan Iringan as Directors IV. PND (co)

Palace official says military, police conducting operations against threat groups
Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. on Friday said the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police are conducting law enforcement operations against threat groups. The Palace official issued the statement following a four-hour battle between security forces and suspected terrorists in Palimbang town in Sultan Kudarat on Thursday that left eight people dead, including an Indonesian believed to be linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

According to reports, Indonesian Sucipto Ibrahim Ali, alias Abdul Fatah, was killed when soldiers of the 61st Marine Company under the Marine Battalion Landing Team 6 patrolling Sitio Sinapingan in Barangay Butril, clashed with the suspected terrorists at about 5:40 a.m. on Thursday.

Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Major Felimon Tan, Jr. said the eight killed were members of the Ansar Al Khalifa, an ISIS terror cell operating in Mindanao.

The military is still verifying if the slain Indonesian was indeed Sucipto, a member of the Mujahidin Indonesia Timur, which has direct links to the ISIS.

“There are continuing efforts to verify if indeed there are possible links of such groups with other threat elements within and outside the country,” Secretary Coloma said.

The Communications Secretary also gave the assurance that “security forces are committed and focused on ensuring the safety and well-being of our citizens whose vigilance and cooperation are essential in maintaining peace and order”. PND (jm)