29 December 2015

President Aquino encourages Filipinos to be heroes in their own way in Rizal Day message
President Benigno S. Aquino III, in his Rizal Day message, called on the Filipino people to become heroes in their own way and reaffirm their commitment to the righteous path agenda that he champions for the common good.

“May we all be inspired by Dr. Jose Rizal’s courage and intelligence, his sense of duty, hunger for knowledge, passion for reform, and undying love of country,” the President said in his message released on Tuesday.

“Let us all be heroes in our own way, and reaffirm our commitment to the Daang Matuwid. Only by traversing this road towards fairness and progress can we translate our dreams into tangible realities for our people.”

President Aquino reminded the people about Rizal’s hard work and his sacrifices that contributed to the building of the nation and the kind of country that it is today.

Every year, he said, the country celebrates Rizal Day to reflect on Rizal’s sacrifice to free the Philippines from the shackles of abuse and inequality during the colonial years under Spain.

He said that through Rizal’s writings and deeds, the country’s forefathers became a braver, more united citizenry, “both capable and determined to win the liberties we now enjoy”.

“Dr. Jose Rizal worked hard to pursue our independence, serving as a catalyst for change; his works remain relevant to this day, a reminder of a past when freedom seemed beyond our reach,” the President said.

“Let us remember him on this occasion, along with other heroes who shared their strength and vision to make the Philippines the nation it is today.”

President Aquino is set to lead the commemoration of the national hero’s 119th death anniversary and martyrdom on Wednesday.

December 30 has been declared by the government as a regular holiday throughout the country in observance of Rizal Day. PND (as)

President Aquino enjoins Filipinos to continue supporting reform agenda in New Year message
President Benigno S. Aquino III, in his message for the New Year, expressed the deep pride he feels regarding the recent developments in the country, and advised Filipinos to choose the right leaders in next year’s elections to sustain those gains.

“I join all Filipinos as we bid farewell to a historic 2015 and expectantly look forward to a peaceful, prosperous 2016,” President Aquino said in his message released on Tuesday.

“As I reflect on the developments of our country this past year and those that came before it, I am filled with pride by how far we have come since we began our journey in 2010.”

The country now has a soaring economy, robust democracy, and magnified presence on the global stage, which not only promises a great start to the coming year but also highlights the Philippines’ “ongoing narrative of resurgence under the Daang Matuwid”, he said.

The President recalled that more than five years ago, the country faced a “future full of despair and uncertainty” amid reports of plunder, mismanagement, and corruption in government.

“Today, progress, opportunity, and growth fill news about the Philippines, both here and abroad,” he said.

He attributed these achievements to the country’s collective resolve to follow the straight and righteous path, “a path that transformed damaged public agencies into stronger, more transparent, and responsive institutions, turned a demoralized government workforce into dedicated civil servants, and galvanized an apathetic populace into active, empowered nation-builders”.

The President further noted that the government reform agenda reinvigorated a sluggish business sector into a major driver of economic growth.

“Indeed, the Daang Matuwid is a roadmap that will catapult us into First World Status and make us a $1-trillion economy by the year 2030,” he said.

President Aquino also said that this possibility encourages him and the rest of the government to faithfully pursue their tasks in the last six months of his administration.

The same motivation should also guide the country as it chooses a new set of leaders next year to maintain the Philippines’ upward growth trajectory and keep the nation on the Daang Matuwid, he added.

“As long as we bear in our hearts and minds the welfare of our people, we will realize our inherent greatness and usher in a Philippines that we can proudly bequeath to the coming generations,” he said, wishing the country a happy and eventful new year. PND (as)

Palace tells public to refrain from indiscriminately firing guns during New Year celebration
Malacañang on Tuesday urged the public to refrain from firing firearms indiscriminately, as well as using illegal firecrackers as the country welcomes the new year.

In a press briefing at the Palace, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said they received a report about a nine-year-old girl who was hit by a stray bullet while playing in Bulacan.

The victim was brought to the East Avenue Medical Center but did not survive due to extensive internal injuries, he said.

“Buo ang determinasyon ng DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government), PNP (Philippine National Police), at lahat ng law enforcement agencies na tutukan nang husto ang sitwasyon para mapigil ang indiscriminate firing or unauthorized use of firearms,” Secretary Coloma said.

The Palace official also called on the public to avoid setting off illegal firecrackers to prevent injuries or deaths during the New Year celebration.

“Pangalawa naman, ang paggamit ng mga mapanganib at ilegal na mga paputok na kung ano-anong mga pangalan ang ibinibigay para magkaroon ng maskara na ito ay hindi nakamamatay, ay dapat maging mulat at handa ang ating mga kababayan,” he said.

“Marami namang alternatibong paraan ng pagdiriwang na hindi maghahatid ng panganib sa atin. Kaya ito ang ating panawagan na maging ligtas ang pagdiriwang ng Bagong Taon.”

Malacañang has suggested alternative noisemakers that would enable the public to celebrate the New Year safely, instead of using the traditional fun but dangerous firecrackers.

Coloma has recently issued a statement in support of the Department of Health’s (DOH) annual campaign against pyrotechnic materials.

The DOH has released the slogan “Tetano ay Nakamamatay, Huwag Pasaway, Sa Paputok May Goodbye” to discourage the public from setting off firecrackers and other explosive devices as these often cause serious injuries that even lead to death. PND (as)

Palace spells out major accomplishments in 2015
The Aquino administration counts the drop in the number of Filipinos leaving to work abroad, the decrease in the number of poor families, and maintaining a robust economy among its major accomplishments this year, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said on Tuesday.

“Tinanong si Pangulo diyan. Isa sa mga nabanggit niya ay ang napababang bilang ng mga OFWs (overseas Filipino workers), nabawasan na ito ng halos kalahating milyon, I think 400,000 to 500,000,” Secretary Coloma said during a media briefing in Malacañang, when asked about the government’s major accomplishments in 2015.

He further said that the government was able to reduce the number of poor families in the country this year through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

Coloma also noted the remarkable decline in the number of out-of-school youth, which he attributed to the implementation of the K to 12 basic education program as well as the 4Ps.

The country’s economy, he said, also remains strong despite the sluggish global economy.

“Isa pa rin tayo sa pinakamabilis ang pag-unlad at napanatili natin ang investment grade rating,” he added.

The Palace official said the Philippines also showed to the world its capability to organize major events with the country’s successful hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit last November, and Pope Francis’ visit last January. PND (as)

Palace: High optimism among Filipinos is a result of President Aquino’s transparent, dedicated service
Malacañang on Tuesday pledged to continue to work hard to uplift the lives of the people, as it welcomed the results of a survey showing a high level of optimism among Filipinos.

“We acknowledge the high level of optimism expressed by a great majority of our people in two year-end surveys conducted by the Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. told reporters during a press briefing at the Palace.

“The Aquino administration will intensify its efforts in implementing vital programs that would broaden the scope of social welfare and protection, generate employment and livelihood opportunities for our countrymen, and sustain the gains of the economy during the past five years.”

The Pulse Asia survey showed that a majority, or 89 percent, of its 1,800 respondents will welcome the New Year “with hope”.

“Hope is the predominant sentiment among Filipinos as far as the year 2016 is concerned,” the study, which was conducted from December 4 to 11, said.

The sentiment is shared by most Filipinos across geographic areas with 85 percent to 95 percent, and socio-economic classes with 86 percent to 92 percent.

The respondents were registered voters aged 18 years old and above, and the survey had a 2 percent error margin.

Asked if President Aquino’s leadership has something to do with the high optimism among Filipinos, Secretary Coloma responded by saying that throughout the President’s administration, he has governed with sincerity, commitment and transparency.

His vision for the country is carried out through the program, “A Social Contract with the Filipino People”, the Palace official said.

The President acknowledges his obligations and commitment to the Filipino people, with the major goal of uplifting their lives and giving them a better future, Coloma said, adding that the survey results show that Filipinos may have acknowledged the President’s efforts to fulfill what he had promised when he assumed office.

“At dahil din sa ipinakita niyang determinasyon ng pamahalaan na maging transparent, hayag at tapat ang paglilingkod, sa aking palagay ito ang mga elemento na nagpalakas sa kanilang kumpiyansa,” Coloma said, noting that the public has recognized the President’s personal integrity and commitment as a leader. PND (as)

President Aquino appoints Adrian Cristobal, Jr. as ad interim trade chief
President Benigno S. Aquino III has appointed lawyer Adrian Cristobal, Jr. as ad interim trade and industry secretary effective December 31, replacing Secretary Gregory Domingo.

A transmittal letter has been sent to the Commission on Appointments, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said, quoting Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr.

Cristobal joined the Aquino administration in August 2010 when he was appointed Trade Undersecretary for International Trade.

He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley, United States, and his Juris Doctor of Laws at the Ateneo de Manila University.

Secretary Domingo, who wants to return to the private sector, resigned in September but kept his post until after the country finished hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings.

President Aquino was reported to have asked Domingo to postpone his departure from the Cabinet until the APEC summit is finished. PND (as)