26 Apr 2016

Palace condoles with Canadian government, family of beheaded hostage
Malacañang on Tuesday expressed its condolences to the Canadian government and the family of mining executive John Ridsdel, who was killed by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).Ridsdel was among the four hostages who were abducted by ASG bandits on September 21 last year from the Holiday Ocean View resort on Samal Island, Davao del Norte. Also seized were Canadian Robert Hall, Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad, and Filipina Marithes Flor.

“We extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to the Canadian government and to the family of Mr. John Ridsdel, who died in the hands of the ASG bandits,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement.

The ASG had threatened to behead one of the hostages on April 25 at 3 p.m. if the government fails to pay the ransom demanded by the bandits. The initial demand was P1 billion each for the hostages but the amount was reduced to P300 million.

Reports said the severed head of Ridsdel, which was inside a plastic bag dropped by two men on a motorcycle, was found by residents in the center of Jolo town, five hours after the expiry of the ransom deadline.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was outraged upon learning of the killing.

Secretary Coloma assured that military and law enforcement operations in Sulu will continue.

“There will be no let-up in the resolute efforts of the joint PNP-AFP task group in pursuing intensive and wide-ranging military and law enforcement operations to neutralize these lawless elements and thwart further threats to peace and security,” he said, adding that President Benigno S. Aquino III “has directed the security forces to apply the full force of the law to bring these criminals to justice”.

President Aquino on Monday ordered Acting Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief, Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda, and Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, Director General Ricardo Marquez, to conduct appropriate military and law enforcement operations to rescue the four hostages.

The President also instructed local authorities to cooperate with the AFP-PNP Task Force and ensure the safety of citizens in the affected communities. PND (jm)

President Aquino to voters: Make government’s achievements permanent by choosing Daang Matuwid coalition
(CLARK, Pampanga) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday urged the electorate to make the positive changes accomplished by his administration permanent by voting for the Daang Matuwid coalition on May 9.

“Kung hindi niyo nadadama ‘yung mga ginawa natin, nagkulang kami. Kung kayo naman ho nakita niyo ‘yung kalsada, eskwelahan, miyembro ng Pantawid (Pamilyang Pilipino Program), pinalawak na PhilHealth at marami pang iba, pati na ‘yung pagtutugon sa mga panahon na meron tayong bagyo o may lindol o iba pang sakuna, kung hindi ninyo nakita ang ginawa ng gobyernong ito, palagay ko malaki ang pagkukulang namin. Kung kayo naman ho nakita ninyo, kayo na ho ang pangunahing testigo,” the President told local officials and members of the community who gathered at the Fontana Convention Center here.

He pointed out that his government did not raise taxes, except for the sin tax, to fund its projects, yet the economy expanded by an average of 6.2 percent, the highest average in the past 40 years.

“Ang daming ratings upgrade na nakuha natin. Sa madaling salita ho, nakita ulit ang Pilipinas ng mga negosyante at sabi nila: ‘Mukhang maayos mamuhunan dito.’ Namuhunan sila, nagbabayad ng buwis, lumalakas ang kakayanan ng gobyerno para naman mapondohan lahat ng ating kailangang pondohan, mula imprastruktura hanggang PhilHealth,” he explained.

President Aquino credited the Filipino people for the country’s transformation and thanked them for giving him the mandate to lead and helping him face numerous challenges these past six years.

“Wala akong ipinagmamalaki maliban na ang unang-una, tumotoo ako sa inyo, na nangako ako sa inyo ‘di hamak mas maganda ang iiwan ko kaysa sa dinatnan ko. Kayo na ho ang testigo kung meron talagang nangyari o hindi, at kung meron nangyari — ulitin ko ho: Kayo ang gumawa nito. Kayo ang may kayang magpatuloy nito at kami ho nakasandal lang sa inyo, kayo ang boss namin, sabihin ninyo kung saan tayo pupunta. Makita natin sa ika-siyam ng Mayo,” he said.

Noting that the administration’s accomplishments could be negated, he said, “Pwedeng mawala lahat ng ginawa natin ngayon. Pwedeng naging bakasyon lang itong anim na taon na ito o pwedeng maging permanente. Nasa sa inyo po ‘yan. Nasa sambayanang Pilipino po iyan. Kayo ang boss. Kayo ang magsasabi kung saan tayo pupunta.” PND (sm)

Palace optimistic over administration bets’ chances in May 9 polls
A Malacañang official has expressed hope that Filipino voters would support the administration’s candidates during the May 9 elections to continue the reforms initiated by President Benigno S. Aquino III.

“We note the Pulso ng Bayan Pre-Electoral national survey of Pulse Asia covering the period April 16 to 20, 2016. When asked about results of public opinion surveys on voters’ preferences in Lipa City last 21 April, President Aquino stressed that the most important survey will be held on election day, May 9,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said on Tuesday.

“We trust that our Bosses will manifest their desire for the continuity of the gains achieved under the good governance platform,” he added.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte maintained his lead of 12 percentage points over Senator Grace Poe in the latest presidential survey released by Pulse Asia on Tuesday.

Duterte obtained 35 percent in the latest survey, and Poe 23 percent. Administration candidate, former interior and local government secretary Manuel Roxas II got 17 percent, Vice President Jejomar Binay 16 percent, and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago 2 percent.

Last Sunday, the presidential aspirants tangled in the third and last debate held in Pangasinan , tackling such issues as poverty, education, health care, job generation, and the West Philippine Sea. PND (as)