15 Apr 2016

President Aquino welcomes economic zones’ vast contribution to job generation
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday night lauded the vast contribution of economic zones in generating millions of jobs and in oiling the Philippine economy.Speaking during the Philippine Economic Zone Authority’s (PEZA), 21st anniversary celebration and investors’ recognition night, the President said his economic managers have always predicted that PEZA-approved investments under his administration would exceed the amount generated by the previous three administrations for more than 15 years.

“Tonight, I thank you for proving them right because as of December 2015, 50.5 percent of total PEZA-approved investments equivalent to roughly 1.594 trillion pesos have been recorded under our administration,” he told foreign investors who attended the event.

He said that since investors have been true to their word, there would be an even more significant margin of success by the time he steps down from office.

“To be honest, I am not surprised because no matter the quality of the country’s leadership in the past, PEZA has cultivated a strong track record of good governance,” he added.

The Chief Executive thanked PEZA Director General Lilia de Lima, under whose watch, some P3.16 trillion in investments have been approved, generating almost 1.2 million jobs.

“A scan of recent headlines and news stories shows that these numbers are likely to increase, with the establishment of a 63-hectare economic zone in Davao, the possible expansion of Osaka-based companies in the Philippines, and PEZA’s continued efforts to convince even more companies to set up shop in the Philippines,” he said.

“Internal reform has likewise led to more efficient operations in PEZA eco-zones: from an electronic application registration system, to the pilot electronics zone transfer system, which will speed up delivery of parts and supplies to export manufacturing enterprises.”

He noted that PEZA is “one of, if not the only eco-zone authority in the world, to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with the exception of Good Friday”.

Investors, he said, continue to speak highly of the quality of service they have received from PEZA, with some referring to the agency as the most efficient government agency they have encountered.

“Everyone agrees: you are graft and corruption-free. All of this is for the benefit of our people and our investors, including all of you present here tonight. Everything that PEZA has done is a reflection of just how much we want you to build successful and lasting enterprises in the country,” he said.

President Aquino further reassured the investors that the Philippines remains firmly among the fastest-growing economies in Asia.
“I vowed to leave our country in a far better state than that which I found it, and I believe I will be doing just that come June 30. The next six years, however, will be in the hands of another president or, perhaps more accurately, in the hands of over 54 million registered voters. What we have now is a momentum built on the sacrifices and hard work of the past years,” he said.

Emphasizing the need to continue his government’s reform programs, President Aquino said he is confident that the people will choose wisely come election time and “continue the great success story of the Philippines” with investors to work alongside them. PND (sm)

Palace offers condolences to family of former Press Secretary Rodolfo Reyes
Malacañang has extended its condolences to the family of former Press Secretary Rodolfo Reyes, who passed away on Thursday.In a statement issued on Friday, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. remembered Reyes as a lifelong journalist who was deeply committed to his profession.

“He heeded the call to public service twice when he was appointed Press Secretary by Presidents Fidel Ramos and Joseph Ejercito Estrada in 1992-1993 and in 1998-2000, respectively. He is remembered kindly and respected highly by all those whose lives were touched by his humble and gentle ways,” Secretary Coloma said.

“Our thoughts and prayers for his eternal repose go to his bereaved family,” he added.

Reyes passed away due to heart complications at the Asian Hospital in Muntinlupa on Thursday evening. He was 80.

He worked for seven newspapers and was the first publisher and editor-in-chief of the Manila Standard. He also served as an executive of networks, GMA and ABS-CBN.

Reyes was best known for exposing illegal drug and crime syndicates in the early 1960s, for which he was named Journalist of the Year.

His remains will be at the Manila Memorial Park starting Friday and he will be interred on Monday. PND (jd)

Police, military on heightened alert to ensure public security, says Coloma
The Palace on Friday assured that the country’s police and security forces are maintaining their constant state of watchfulness to ensure the safety of the public at all times. “Walang dapat ikabahala at hindi dapat maligalig ang ating mga mamamayan. Tinitiyak ng ating kapulisan at mga pwersang pangseguridad, na maayos ang paglatag ng mga hakbang para tiyakin ang seguridad ng lahat,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a press briefing in Malacañang.

According to news reports last week, parts of an improvised explosive device (IED) were found in a backpack left behind in a bus by a passenger who boarded at the Coastal Road in Baclaran and alighted at Ortigas Avenue.

“These are actually components ng isang improvised explosive device. Hindi naman ito isang buong IED components na noong sinuri ng ating mga awtoridad ay parang pinagsama-sama lamang at parang gawa ng mga prankster o mga amateur,” Secretary Coloma explained.

He however reiterated that the authorities are taking this seriously.

“Pero hindi naman natin binabalewala ang kahit anong bagay, kahit nga ganito nga ang itsura, dahil hindi naman dapat din tayo maging complacent,” he said.

Coloma noted that last year’s Papal visit and the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting have proven the government’s capability to maintain peace and security.

“Tulad ng ating naging karanasan noong pagbisita ng Santo Papa at noong APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, buo ang determinasyon ng pamahalaan na panatilihin ang kapayapaan at seguridad sa ating bansa sa tulong at pakikiisa ng ating mga Boss,” he added.

The Palace official nonetheless called on the public to remain vigilant and cooperate with the authorities in observing precautionary measures.

“Hinihimok natin ang ating mga kababayan na manatiling mapagmatyag at makipagtulungan sa mga awtoridad sa pagsunod sa mga ipinapatupad na mga hakbang sa pag-iingat,” he said. PND (jd)

President Aquino determined to end Abu Sayyaf threat, says Palace official
President Benigno S. Aquino III is determined to put an end to the threat posed by the Abu Sayyaf Group, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said on Friday. “Buong-buo ang determinasyon ng Pangulo at ng pamahalaan na bigyan na ng mariing dagok at mawakasan na itong mga pananakot na ginagawa ng (Abu Sayyaf), dahil batid naman natin ang ating Sandatahang Lakas ay nakapagdagdag na ng kanilang mga kagamitan,” Secretary Coloma told reporters during a press briefing at the Palace.

“Sapat ang kagamitan ng ating mga Sandatahang Lakas. Sapat din ang kanilang pagsasanay. Mataas ang moral ng ating mga kasundaluhan kaya’t pinaiigting ang paglaban sa kanila,” he added.

The Palace official pointed out that the area controlled by the rebels has been reduced due to the completion of the Basilan Circumferential Road.

“Totoong lumiliit na ‘yung lugar na pwede nilang pagkilusan dahil sa mga importanteng proyektong pangimprastruktura na nakumpleto na ng ating pamahalaan, katulad ng Basilan Circumferential Road,” he said, noting that the island province of Basilan is now encircled by a concrete highway.

“Meron pang kasunod na proyekto diyan ang ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) natin, in coordination with DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways), sina Governor Mujiv Hataman. Ang tawag doon sa proyekto ay ang Transcentral Road Project. Nauna ‘yung sa kapaligiran, ngayon naman ‘yung sa gitna. Sa gitna mismo ng isla, merong mga bulubunduking bahagi doon, may Transcentral Road Project naman para talagang mag-improve ‘yung connectivity,” he explained.
Coloma reiterated that the government will not allow the armed group to continue its illegal activities.

“Hindi natin pwedeng pahintulutan na magpatuloy sila sapagkat tuwing sila ay makakakuha — through extortion, through kidnap-for-ransom activities — ng mga malalaking halaga ng salapi, ito rin ang ginagamit nila para magpatuloy ang kanilang tiwaling mga ginagawa na labag sa batas at ang paghahasik ng ligalig sa ating mga mamamayan, Kaya’t buong-buo ang determinasyon ng pamahalaan hinggil diyan,” he said.

On a Singaporean expert’s claim that the Islamic State (ISIS) was behind the deadly encounter in Basilan, Coloma pointed out that rebel groups used to say that they have links with the Al Qaeda but these days, they say they have links with the ISIS.

“Kinakailangan meron silang branding na ganoon para makilala sila, para katakutan sila… Pero kung tutuusin, titingnan natin what these groups really are — ang talagang generic characterization natin ay these are opportunists, mercenary groups na hindi dapat bigyan ng puwang sa ating bansa,” he said.

“Dapat sila ay labanan sa fullest extent na magagawa natin… Kasi habang ibinabandera natin, ito ay ISIS, Al Qaeda, para bang binibigyan pa natin sila ng puwang. Samantalang sa katotohanan ay sila naman ay mga oportunista at mga mersinaryong grupo na walang lugar sa ating bansa.” PND (jd)

Malacañang to ensure adequate power supply during election
The government has expressed its determination to ensure adequate and uninterrupted electric power supply, especially during the election period.“Ang objective ng DOE (Department of Energy) ay talagang zero disruption, one week before and one week after May 9 — ito ang talagang ideal situation na kanilang nilalayong matamo. No power interruption one week before and after, para hindi magkaroon ng anumang pag-antala o ligalig doon sa panahon ng halalan,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a media briefing at the Palace on Friday.

He said the Energy Department is monitoring the maintenance of power plants.

“Sa mga scheduled maintenance, tinitiyak na sa pamamagitan nang masinsing koordinasyon, tinitiyak ng DOE na hindi nila gagawin ito sa target period natin na one week before and one week after (election day),” Secretary Coloma said.

He further noted that Energy Secretary Zenaida Monsada is in Cebu to meet with power suppliers and other stakeholders, while a team from the department has inspected power plants and coordinated meetings in Luzon and Mindanao.

Coloma explained that the tight supply in electricity is due to the combination of the rising heat index and the maintenance of power plants.

“Sa Luzon, ang peak demand ay from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Masyadong mataas kasi ang heat index, tumataas pa ito. Sa Visayas and Mindanao naman, sa gabi ang kanilang peak requirement,” he said.

In Mindanao, he said, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has given permits to cut down trees that pose risks to transmission lines.

The Palace official meanwhile called on the public to practice energy-saving measures as much as possible, despite the searing heat felt across the country.

“Hindi naman natin siguro masisisi ang ating mga kababayan na gumamit ng electric fan o ng aircon sa matinding init ng panahon. Siguro kapag medyo malamig na, kung gabi na at hindi na ganun kainit, maaaring mag-bawas ng consumption itong mga appliances at kung meron pang ibang energy conservation measures,” he said.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines placed the Luzon and Mindanao grids on red alert on Friday due to the high power demand brought by higher temperatures and the forced shutdown of some power plants. PND (jd)