August 26, 2015 – News Releases
|26 August 2015|
|Palace: President Aquino trusts Customs, Metro Manila Development Authority chiefs|
| Malacañang on Wednesday said President Benigno S. Aquino III trusts Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino.
Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said that despite calls for Lina and Tolentino to resign, these two officials enjoy the President’s trust.
Lina’s decision on the random inspection of balikbayan boxes drew the ire of the public, especially overseas Filipino workers, while the MMDA head is being criticized for the horrendous traffic in the metropolis. “Sa aking pagkabatid, patuloy na nagtitiwala ang Pangulo sa kakayahan nilang dalawa,” Secretary Coloma said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
“Sina Commissioner Lina at Chairman Tolentino ay mayroong mabibigat na responsibilidad na sinisikap nilang gampanan sa pinakamahusay na paraan,” he further said.
“Sa pagganap ng tungkulin, hindi lahat ng kanilang pinapahayag ay sinasangayunan ng mga naaapektuhan o maaaring maapektuhan ng kanilang mga desisyon o aksyon. Hindi naman makatuwiran na tuwing may hindi pagsangayon, hihilingin kaagad ang pagbibitiw ng mga opisyal na tulad nila.”
Tolentino is believed to be running for a senatorial post under the administration ticket in next year’s elections. PND (jm)
|President Aquino confers Order of Sikatuna on outgoing European Union Head of Delegation|
| President Benigno S. Aquino III conferred the Order of Sikatuna on outgoing Head of Delegation of the European Union (EU) to the Philippines Ambassador Guy Ledoux at the Music Room of Malacañang Palace on Wednesday.The President presented the Order of Sikatuna with the rank of Datu, Katangiang Ginto (Grand Cross, Gold Distinction) to Ambassador Ledoux for his “creative efforts in promoting a robust partnership and cooperation between the Philippines and the EU, and his support for the Philippines’ development goals and shared multilateral objectives, such as addressing climate change, sustainable development, and disaster risk reduction and management.”
Present during the ceremony were Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya.
Ambassador Ledoux meanwhile was accompanied by EU Head of Administration Jose Maria Romero Pruche, and EU Programme Managers Edoardo Manfredini, Robert Frank, and Brenda Candries.
The Order of Sikatuna is an order of diplomatic merit conferred upon individuals who have rendered exceptional and meritorious services to the Republic of the Philippines. Together with the Philippine Legion of Honor and the Order of Lakandula, the Order of Sikatuna is one of the three senior honors of the Republic. PND (ag)
|New United States Pacific Command Chief calls on President Aquino|
| The new commander of the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM), Admiral Harry Harris, Jr., paid a courtesy call on President Benigno S. Aquino III at the Music Room of Malacañang Palace on Wednesday.
Admiral Harris was accompanied by US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg, USPACOM Foreign Affairs Policy Advisor Christopher Marut, Senior Defense Official Colonel Earnest Lee, and Political Military Affairs Chief Marc Jackson.
He was received by Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Undersecretary Evan Garcia, and Assistant Secretary on American Affairs Maria Andrelita Austria, as well as Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, and Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Hernando Iriberri.
The 59-year-old admiral assumed leadership of the USPACOM last May 27.
He was born in Japan to a Navy enlisted man and a Japanese mother and grew up in Tennessee. He is a graduate of the US Naval Academy, and attended Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, and Oxford University for his postgraduate studies.
He is the highest-ranking Asian American in the US Navy. PND (ag)
|Malacañang respects overseas Filipino workers’ right to join ‘No Remittance Day’ protest|
| A Palace official said the government respects the decision of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to join the “No Remittance Day” on August 28 in protest of the Bureau of Customs’ (BOC) plan to conduct random inspection of balikbayan boxes.
Speaking during a media briefing in Malacañang on Wednesday, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said OFWs have the right to express their sentiments.
“Iginagalang namin ang karapatang magpahayag ng saloobin ang ating mga Overseas Filipino worker. Patuloy naming kinikilala ang mahalagang ambag ng mga OFW sa ating ekonomiya, bagaman kailangan ding isaalang-alang ang pangangailangang sawatain ang mga smuggler na nananamantala sa bayan sa paggamit ng mga balikbayan box, at sirain ang simbolo nito bilang bunga ng pagpupunyagi ng mga OFW na nagsasakripisyong magtrabaho sa ibang bansa para sa kapakanan ng kanilang mga pamilya,” he said.
“Iyon namang pagpapadala ng kinita, kung tutuusin natin, ay personal na pagpapasya ng bawat manggagawa at ang kanilang pinagpapadalhan ay ang kanilang mahal sa buhay—pamilya na tinutustusan, sinusuportahan, at binibigyan ng kalinga,” he further said.
Secretary Coloma noted that OFWs may delay their remittances but they would still send money to their families.
“Kaya sa kanilang pagpapasya isasaalang-alang nila na, kung ano mang pagpapahayag ng kanilang saloobin, kailangan pa rin nilang maiparating ang mga remittance na ‘yon. Maaaring maantala ito ng isang araw pero hindi naman siguro ito nila iniisip na huwag nang ipadala,” he said.
“Ang pagsunod nila o hindi nila pagsunod, ibabatay nila ito sa katuwiran, at nananalig kami na sa paggamit nila ng katuwiran ay gagawin nila ang pinakamainam para sa kapakanan ng kanilang mga mahal sa buhay,” he added.
The Palace official saw no cause for concern if the “No Remittance Day” pushes through, citing a similar incident in 2013.
“Ang dating naging karanasan diyan ay noon pang 2013, noong kasagsagan ng isyu ng PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) o pork barrel, at noon naman ay walang naiulat na masamang epekto ito. Kaya kung ito ang pagbabatayan ay tila wala naman tayong dapat ikabahala hinggil dito,” Coloma said.
Migrante International, an OFW group, has urged migrant workers to join the remittance holiday on August 28 to protest the BOC policy to manually inspect random balikbayan boxes in an effort to curb smuggling.
President Aquino however ordered the BOC to have the balikbayan boxes pass through X-ray machines, instructing that only packages with suspicious contents will have to be manually inspected. PND (jm)
|President Aquino does not play favorites in public service, says Palace|
| President Benigno S. Aquino III is providing equal attention to the needs of the provinces, in accordance with the government’s programs under the Philippine Development Plan.
Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. issued this statement Wednesday in response to Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos’ remarks that her province is apparently being neglected by the administration.
According to reports, Governor Marcos rued the lack of long-term assistance for the repair of dams and irrigation facilities in Ilocos Norte, as funding for such is not present in the budgets of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the National Irrigation Administration.
Secretary Coloma said he would ask the DPWH to shed light on this matter but emphasized that it is not a policy of the administration to favor one over the other when approving budget allocations for government programs.
“Ang pinagbabatayan ng ating programa de gobierno ay ang Philippine Development Plan, at ito ay naglalayon na makapagtamo para sa ating bansa ng sustainable, inclusive, long-term economic growth. Kaya po ‘yung allocation of resources ay batay doon sa pagtamo ng layuning ito,” he told reporters during a press briefing in Malacañang.
“Kung ‘yan ay idinaan sa hulaan lamang o sa favoritism, tiyak na hindi natin matatamo ang fastest rate of economic growth in each of the last five years, na ang five-year average ay pinakamataas sa nakaraang apat na dekada,” he said.
Coloma gave the same line of reasoning to Vice President Jejomar Binay, who claimed that only those provinces allied with the administration, such as Iloilo and Batanes, receive fund allocations from the national government.
“Sa pag-allocate ng mga pondo ng bayan, ito ay dumadaan sa House of Representatives na binubuo ng mga kinatawan ng lahat ng congressional districts from all over the country, at mayroon naman silang sapat na pagkakataon para suriin kung paano hinahati ang paglalagay ng mga resources,” he explained.
Even Governors Elias Bulut, Jr. (Apayao), Alfredo Marañon, Jr. (Negros Occidental), and Lilia Pineda (Pampanga) have attested to this during President Aquino’s last State of the Nation Address, Coloma said, as their provinces received ample support from the national government despite their political differences with the President.
“Hindi naman siguro masasabi na ang pagpapasya sa kasalukuyang administrasyon ay batay sa pulitika,” he said.
The Palace official further pointed out that no one would honestly consider Ilocos Norte a ‘neglected province’, especially since the father of Gov. Marcos ruled as president of the country for 21 years.
“On the overall, maipupunto ko na, sa 21 taong panunungkulan ni Pangulong (Ferdinand) Marcos, mayroon bang makapagsasabi na nagkulang ang pambansang pamahalaan? At ang dinatnan ba ng mga sumunod doon ay isang probinsyang napabayaan? Ganunpaman, aalamin natin kung ano ang mga proyektong nailaan na sa probinsya ng Ilocos Norte,” Coloma said.
Governor Marcos also reportedly said her constituents are upset over thoughts that Ilocos Norte is being left out during National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) meetings.
In this regard, Coloma said that as governor, it is the responsibility of Gov. Marcos to inform the national government about the kind of assistance her people require.“Sa lahat naman ng pagkakataon, sa lahat ng lalawigan at rehiyon ng bansa, sinusunod ng NDRRMC ang mga pangangailangan na ipinahiwatig ng mga local disaster risk reduction and management council,” he said.
“Kung naalala ninyo doon sa (supertyphoon) ‘Yolanda’, ang comprehensive rehabilitation plan ay batay doon sa post-disaster needs assessment. Bahagi ito nang ipinapatupad na batas tungkol sa disaster risk reduction,” he added. PND (hdc)
|Government open to proposed reduction in income tax rate|
| Malacañang on Wednesday said it is open to proposals to reduce the country’s personal income tax rate, said to be the highest in Southeast Asia.
“Government is open to consider proposals on changing the income tax rates and continues to work with Congress on this matter. The Department of Finance (DOF) is advocating a comprehensive review of the existing taxation system, so that needed reforms may be instituted,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. told reporters during the daily press briefing.
“It is also important to identify new and additional sources of tax revenues that will offset any reduction in collection of income taxes,” Secretary Coloma added.
He noted that the finance department will make an extensive review of the existing tax policy.
“According to (Finance) Secretary (Cesar) Purisima, and I quote, ‘The DOF prefers a holistic review of the tax structure so as not to put our fiscal gains and fiscal health at risk,’” said Coloma.
Senator Francis Escudero earlier made an appeal to the President to certify as urgent a bill lowering individual income tax, saying this is his opportunity to bring down one of the highest income tax in the region.
According to reports, the Philippines’ personal income tax rate stands at 32 percent, compared to Thailand’s 10 percent, Singapore’s 2 percent, Vietnam’s 20 percent, Malaysia’s 11 percent, Cambodia’s 20 percent, and Laos’ 12 percent. PND (ag)